Focus Work
Decoding the Ancient Chinese Architecture: Liang Sicheng and the Society for the Research in Chinese Architecture

Focus Work
Jingfan Xue

In 1932, a field trip to Dule Temple was conducted by the Society for the Research in Chinese Architecture. Led by Liang Sicheng, this survey opened up a new chapter for the research of the Society and made a meaningful step in the modernization of traditional Chinese architecture. This Focus Work summarizes the work of the Society as they decoded ancient Chinese architecture. Particular focus is placed on efforts to understand the constructional logic of the ancient Chinese wooden structure, and to translate it into comprehensible media, both textual and graphical, also for Westerners. Based on this field trip, the Focus Work discusses the motivation, the methods, the contribution as well as the limitations of the Society in their research. Technical aspects such as methods of measurements and techniques of representation, are examined in depth. In order to present a comprehensive understanding of the Society’s work, the American education of Liang Sicheng, one of its leaders, as well as the previous field trips conducted by other scholars are also considered.


Dr. Matthew James Wells