Chinese Garden Design - Space Dividing
The various scenic sections inside a Chinese garden offer the Chinese gardener the greatest freedom in arranging multifarious natural views for his landscape idyll purpose. Subdividing the garden into different independent sections also satisfies various functional needs of the private Chinese garden. The central section is usually the place for such group activities as family party and gathering, entertaining friends etc. For this reason, the central section always has the most dominating landscape scene along with the sizable main hall “Ting” or “Tang”. The subordinate parts may only have a zigzag streamlet, a rock peak, a rock caravan, even a particular piece of plant along with a den, or a bed camber. But, the subordinating section is also important for Chinese garden owners, for it provided a place for spirit refuge. Inside the subordinate section, one could find a sense of relief, freedom and privacy, and could get rid of the restraints of rigidly enforced social etiquette.
Walls were the most common means of demarcating one spatial segment from another. At the same time, rockeries, group of trees, sides of a buildings, and even two adjoining pillars of an open pavilion could also served this function.
In order to avoid feeling too closed-in after the space has been divided into many sections, Chinese garden designers created many successful stratagems of walling in and penetrating at the same time. Thus, the space in a private Chinese garden is never completely separated, but is half separated and half connected. When one inside a section, he will always has an opportunity to perceive a segment of a neighboring section. Such features as latticed openings in walls, decorated doors, and the low part of the walls tend to reveal the scenes beyond. In China, the Chinese garden design technique of partial revelation of a scene is called “Lou Jing” – the divulging scene. The trick of the divulging scene is that it simply makes the tantalizing suggestion of the scenes beyond, but does not discloses everything. Partial revelation of a space not only intrigues viewer’s interest for further exploration but also encourages the viewer to imagine a space that is larger that is actual size. In fat, the stratagem of that a space seems larger and more attractive when seen through a barrier was also regarded as an important method by Chinese landscape painters. This technique could be manifested by the following sentences of the Sung Dynasty painter Kuo His: “if one wishes to paint a tall mountain, one should not paint every part, or it will not seem high, when mist haze encircle its waist, then it seem tall…. Indeed. A mountain paint in its entire is not only without beauty, but it is as awkward as a picture...” The divulging scene that encourages a viewer’s sight “divulge” into the inner scenes is an important method to achieve a visual unifying of the different Chinese garden scenes. When a viewer finally reaches the scenic section which had been partially revealed before, the real Chinese garden scene may be a dramatic contrast to the imagine one. However, this change will not occur abruptly, as the previous observation of the scene, even a mere glimpse of the scene through a grill window, has a psychologically unifying effect upon the beholder.
Not only were the Chinese gardeners divided the entire Chinese garden into different horizontal sections. They also divided the Chinese garden space into different vertical sections along the rise and the fall of the site. For example, one terrace rising above another, a pavilion built on the peak of a man-made mountain, a stone bridge that is lower than the ground level.
The concept of the divided but un-separated which has been practiced by the Chinese gardeners for long time is also common to the modern architecture design.
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