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Classification by Structure

As early as the neolithic period, a basic principle of Chinese architecture was already established, wherein columns spaced at intervals, rather than walls, provided the support for the roof. Walls came to serve merely as enclosing screens. Although the typical Chinese roof was probably developed in the Shang (c.1523–1027 B.C.) or the Chou (1027–c.256 B.C.) period, its features are unknown to us until the Han dynasty. Then it appeared in the form that we recognize today as a hallmark of Chinese architecture—a graceful, overhanging roof, sometimes in several tiers, with upturned eaves. The roof rests on a series of four-part brackets, which in turn are supported by other clusters of brackets set on columns. Decorative possibilities were soon realized in the colorful glazed tiling of roofs and the carving and painting of brackets, which became more and more elaborate.

Chinese classifications for architecture include:

亭 ting (pavilions)
台 tai (terraces)
楼 lou (Multistorey buildings)
阁 ge (Two-storey pavilions)
塔 ta (Chinese pagodas)
轩 xuan (Verandas with windows)
榭 xie (Pavilions or houses on terraces)
屋 wu (Rooms along roofed corridors)
廊 lang
宫 gong (Palace) 

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Chinese Pagodas (Ta)
Chinese Pagodas (Chinese 塔, pinyin ta) are a traditional part of Chinese architecture, introduced from India along with Buddhism as protective structures for Buddhist relics. In addition to religious use, since ancient times Chinese pagodas have been praised for the spectacular views which they offer, and many famous poems in Chinese history attest to the joy of scaling pagodas.

Palace (Gong)
The Chinese word for "palace" is gong. However, it may refer to anyone of several different meanings.
A common sight in the country, the Chinese pavilion (ting, which means also a kiosk) is built normally either of wood or stone or bamboo and may be in any of several shapes - square, triangle, hexagon, octagon, a five-petal flower, a fan and more. But all pavilions have columns for support and no walls. In parks or in scenic places, pavilions are built on slopes to command the panorama or they are built by the lakeside to create intriguing images by the water.
Storeyed Building (Lou)
When the Chinese speak of a lou, they refer to any building of two or more storeys with a horizontal main ridge. The erection of such buildings began a long time ago in the Period of the Warring States (475-221 B. C. ), when chonglou ("layered houses") was mentioned in historical records.
Storeyed Pavilion (Ge)
The Chinese ge is similar to the lou in that both are of two or more storey buildings. But the ge has a door and windows only on the front side with the other three sides being solid walls. Ge are usually enclosed by wooden balustrades or decorated with boards all around.
Terrace (Tai)
The tai was an ancient architectural sturture, a very much elevated terrace with a flat top. Generally built of earth, stone and surfaced with brick, they are used as a belvedere from which to look into the distance. In fact, however, many well-known ancient tai as we know it today is not just a bare platform but has some palatial halls built on top.



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