Chinese Timber Frame 2010

I had taped this video in 2010 during the Timber Framers Guild's Frame Spotting tour of China. One of the tour members had seen a TV with a video of the building going together in Pinyao (Shanxi province). The building in the video depicts Wanfo Hall (Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas) which is part of the Zhenguo Temple complex. Wanfo Hall is one of China's oldest existing wooden buildings (constructed around 963 AD).

Thank you to Adriane Yu for her help in editing the video and making it pretty with song...

Chinese Timber Framing

I personally cannot do any justice in describing chinese timber framing methods but here is a general overview:

The main element of these chinese frames is the dou-gong which are interlocking brackets that sit atop columns. What made these brackets so unique and necessary is that they "help to solve four problems that arise as buildings get bigger: how to reduce beam spans, how to brace wall sections above columns, how to support a wide eave, and how to strengthen the frame" (from Richard Wiborg; see below). Further, they allow a very long rafter/hip cantilever which provided protection to the structure while allowing for natural lighting (keeping in mind that there was no glass for glazing or interior lighting other than fire). The duo-gong system reached its zenith during the Tang-Sung Dynasties (600-1200AD).

I hope to update the website with more photos soon of these incredible buildings. In the meantime, please visit my friend Richard Wiborg of Berkely California, who is quite an expert on this subject matter and also gives bracket making workshops:

Richard Wiborg>>

Also, see Chinese Architecture, A Pictorial History by Liang Ssu-ch'eng and Wilma Fairbank.