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An Old Concept Towards Green: The Confucian Impacts on Architecture and Urban Design in Traditional Chinese Society
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1  School of Architecture, Tsinghua University

Abstract: Urban landscape of Chinese cities has experienced tremendous changes over the past one hundred years. China embraced modern technology along with modern architectural and urban design system from the western world. The expense of excessive urbanization is environment degradation and lost of the identities of the old cities. All this forced us to reflect our choices of urban design, was it right to reject all the old concepts from the past? Chinese is one of the few ancient continuous civilizations. As a consequence, it is able to drawn lessons from a very long historical evolution. It can be observed that the civilization center shifted several times in Chinese primitive society; and each time the shifts followed an environmental collapse at the former site. The disapproval of large-scare constructions could be found in the oldest texts in Chinese culture. Confucian philosophy, which became the dominate philosophy of Chinese society, have adopted those values and generated it into the concept of promoting modesty living style. This eventually lead to a more resilient and sustainable society in old China.My hypothesis is that Confucian ideal of modesty and humbleness was an essential element for keeping sustainability of the society. I am arguing that, the Confucian impacts on urban design in old China such as restriction of large-scale constructions and depressing of development of high level architectures, acted as a safety valve to avoid extreme environmental and social collapse. My proposal is that the examination of how Confucian values influenced architecture and urban design in different periods of Chinese history could be helpful to understand the profound effects of philosophical concepts on the social choices of urbanization.
Keywords: Confucianism, Green Urban Culture, Sustainable Society