A Journey Through Springtime Along the River | 清明上河圖

  • Research

In the Song Dynasty, teahouses were scattered all along streets in Bianjing and Lin’an. They were not a rarity even in remote villages. At that time, a teahouse carried more important functions than a place for tea drinking. It was not just where friends met and talked over tea. More importantly, the teahouse was an intermediary space for information exchange and communication.

Tea culture flourished during the Song Dynasty. It was everywhere visible on the streets, people gambling on tea, carrying tea sets – yet this wasn’t just for connoisseur, everyone loved tea and used it as a basis for socializing. The tea room was not only a space for social activities, but also an important media for human interaction. It was the equivalent of today’s KTVs, cafes, a place for exchange, dialogue, work and communication.

During the Song Dynasty Chinese food culture also started to flourish. This period saw a transition from food shortage to abundance, due to the introduction of the Zhancheng rice, the expansion of farmland, the improvement of grain varieties, and the large-scale promotion of farming techniques. The records in Reminiscences of the Eastem Capital (or Dong Jing Meng Hua Lu) and Record of Vain Dreams (or Meng Liang Lu) indicate that culinary skills in the Song Dynasty evolved from only steaming and boiling to almost what we have today. Since then, people gradually started to have three meals a day.

Thanks to the thriving culinary industry, prosperous finance and trade, and a vibrant society, wine culture also boomed. Pubs and restaurants of all kinds were everywhere. However, since wine making and selling required government permission, materials needed for winemaking were rationed and high license fees (wine tax) were charged. Places where wines were sold included official stores and certain inns and restaurants where drinks could be served.

The “jiaodian”is an inn for workers to chill out over a drink. The “jiaodian” bought in bulk from official stores and sold to their customers. They were legitimate liquor retailers.

The “official store” is a government licensed establishment that can produce wine. Wine is served to eat-in and take-out customers, as well as wholesaled to the “jiaodian”.

  • Adaptive Social Space

“Adaptive social space” is a general term referring to diverse internal and external spaces around a building and under a roof. The treatment of these space interfaces is clever and interesting. It is much more than spaces— it is a definition of social relations.

Chinese buildings, under rigid architectural rules, are classified in a hierarchy of types and complexity, but in general, they adopt a wood structure with a focus on the relationship between the slope roof and the column; through the sophisticated mortise-tenon connection, a kaleidoscope of architectural styles is created.

What is even more fascinating is how people deal with spaces under the roof and between the columns: how to define the wall element, how to open and close a space interface, how to meet functional requirements, how to deal with the relationship with nature, with the site, with the social surroundings. All these contribute to spatial diversity.

The diversity of the spaces is both functional and social.

The adaptive evolution of spaces, between internal and external, redefines spatial functions and social relationships in different scenarios.

  • The Catalogue of “Adaptive Social Space”

This research is based on the background mentioned above from a study of the Springtime Along the River and catalogues different typologies of adaptive social spaces as seen in the painting to create a dictionary for architectural use.

The wisdom embedded in how to deal with diverse social spaces during the Song Dynasty is captured in the language of architecture, and translated into elements and instruments, to open up the study of Springtime Along the River to the architectural context and thus a topic for further discussion.

  • Spaces Analysis (Part)

More spaces analysis details are at the bottom of this article (Publication Section).

  • Exhibition
  • Publication

Collaborative Project
Collaborated with FIELD Office
Work Responsibility: Research on basic modelling of the unit space, drawing and rendering
March.2019 – Jul.2019