Ancient Asian Architecture

Ancient Asian Architecture lesson plan

Architecture reflects both time and place. Explore the intriguing characteristics of buildings in ancient Asia.

  • 1.

    Newer buildings are replacing many of the historic ones throughout Asia. Have students choose an Asian country in which to explore traditional architecture. China is the example shown here.

  • 2.

    One way that architectural historians know how ancient Chinese buildings looked is from clay models found in tombs. These models were buried with the dead person to make them feel "at home" in the next world. Have students study pictures and photographs of preserved buildings from the Asian country of their choice. How did peasants live? In what kinds of homes did wealthy families live?

  • 3.

    Students cover their art area with recycled newspaper. Using Crayola® Watercolor Paints, they paint a peasant's or noble family's home. For example, the Forbidden City in Beijing is a large-scale version of a noble's house. Nobles lived in a wooden or bamboo frame house with brick or bamboo wattle plastered over with clay or pounded earth.

  • 4.

    Be sure to include the unique characteristics of the Asian country's architecture, such as overhanging eaves and upturned roof supports.

Standards

  • LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • LA: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • LA: Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
  • SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.
  • SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.
  • SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.
  • SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgounds, classrooms, and the like.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities an characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.
  • VA: Describe and place variety of art objects in historical an cultural contexts.

Adaptations

  • Compare and contrast traditional Chinese architecture with other ancient buildings in Asian countries such as Tibet, Japan, Laos, Thailand, and India. What aspects of those cultures and geography influenced the construction of their buildings? What features are similar? Which are different? Make a sample from each culture to display. A written description should accompany each display.
  • Compare and contrast traditional Asian architecture to that of European countries. What aspects of those cultures and geography influenced the construction of their buildings? What features are similar? Which are different? Make a sample from each culture to display. A written description should accompany each display.
  • Research Feng Shui, a system of design and placement developed in the third century B.C. to determine when and where a building is built and how it is decorated. Use your new knowledge of Feng Shui to rearrange your classroom. How does it differ from what the classroom looks like now? Draw a sketch of your classroom as it appears now. Next, draw a sketch of how y0our classroom would look with Feng Shui principles applied. Discuss your changes with a groups of classmates. Students can also apply their learning about Feng Shui to their homes!
  • Using newly acquired knowledge of Asian architecture, student groups design a modern building for their community incorporating some techniques used in ancient Asian countries. How doe those techniques mesh with modern building design? Are they logical to use? Would it benefit our society to adopt more of those techniques to new buildings?