Phase 1: Posing Real Questions
For my Inquiry Project for Microcampus, I decided to do architecture. For more information about this, you can go to my Phase 0 work page.
Before developing focused questions, I need to think over what I already know about Bai Miority architecture. Honestly, I have no pervious knowledge of Bai, or any kind of Chinese architecture. I do think that architecture is very interesting, as it is used to create earthquake safe buildings, or tall skyscrapers. My knowledge of architecture does not really leave Ancient Greece; so I am eager expand my knowledge through different cultures. In general, architecture is the designing of buildings. The structure and safety of a building is all part of architecture. For example, when designing the Shanghai Tower, planning had to go into the design of the building for it to be able to stand that tall.
The topic of architecture is includes many things, i have decided to narrow down what i am focusing on. When I go to the village, I would like to learn how the buildings there are made, and how culture is expressed in the village's architecture. When wondering how buildings in the village are built, I think about how the people there do not have access to all the tools and materials that modern places have access to. So how do people there build buildings and structures? Also, I would like to know who designs all their buildings. Do they just have people who know how to build simple houses, or are there people there who have specific knowledge that allows them to build more complex things? Looking into the way buildings are built is sort of the "math" part of architecture. I would also like to investigate the art part of it, too. So looking at the designs on the out side of buildings would be something I would look for. Seeing what kind of designs they decorate gate/doorways with would also be a part of it.
I have reasearched some background information, and have posted it at Phase 3.
The following are 10 major questions that I have about my Inquiry Project. These questions will be the base of my research, and will help me begin my Inquiry Project. Knowing these concepts will help me understand the Bai Minority architecture, and allow me to continue with my project. The answers in italics are not the real ansewrs to my questions, but what I think the answers may be. I have grouped my questions together by topic. If two questions have similar topics, I put them together.
1. How do the Bai people make walls for their buildings?
I think that now a days, they may be making their homes more modern. I do not really see people doing the traditional brackets that hold up the house, and walls that do not bear the wieght. Though I may be suprised when we go to the village, I do am guessing they build their houses more similarly to modern times.
2. How do they make their roofs?
I would think they would create the indaviduale tiles of the roof first. Then, after creating enough titles, they would put them all together and be able to fit them together nicley. I do not think this is that different from how people in Shaghai may buid a roofs.
3. What materials do they use?
There are many materials that could be used. I would think that the village would use concrete, bricks and wood would be used. Along with other materials for the roofs. Houses made fully from wood is probably not ideal now, and many people have transitioned to concret. It is safer during earthquakes, and more stable too. Though some wood is probably still used as well. People may have not completly left behind traditionsl materials, but I think they have changed their way of doing things a bit.
4. Are they resorting to modern technology, or following the traditional ways?
I think that it will be a mix. Some modern technology can be so helpful, that it is unthinkable to let the oppertunity slide, but other construction tools may just be usless. I know that this village we are going to has no issues with economy, but that does not mean they are rich enough to buy, and maintain, all the new, fancy, modern tools. Maybe the village perchased somethings that they found most useful. Though, I will not really know if they are the kind of people who want to be more modern, or the kind of people who want to stick with tradition.
5. How does their religious beliefs affect the way a building is built?
Depending on what the Bai people believe, their houses or temples may look differently. For example, if a family decides that they do not believe in Buddhist culture, they may not have bothered to make their temple's roof curved to ward off demons. People who belive certian things that include the way their house is built will build their homes based on their belifs. There are many different opinons in the world that stem from religion. Families will build their house to match their own belifs, therefore, homes may differ.
6. How does their religion affect their decorations?
Decorations include paintings or carvings. And going deeper into painting, it also includes color. Some colors are probably lucky, or shows that the family living in that house is wealthy. A family may want a painting of a certian god in their home. If that god brings luck or good fortune, that religiuos belif would influence their desicion on what kinds of painting they want. The same thing goes for plants or animals, if a certian flower is said to be long life, then families may want that flower carved into the doorway of their house.
7. How does their architecture differ from other countries?
I think that the main differences between countries architecture are their different religons. As I stated before, people's different belifs will affect the way their homes or buildings are built. In chinese architecture, curved roofs ward off demons, but in other countries, that is not the case. Countries also have different styles, in china, they have their unique walls that dont hold the wieght of the roof. And for example, in Ancient Greece, they had their original colunms. Decorations will also be very different. The greeks would have statues of the gods they worshiped, where the chinese would have paintings or such, of the gods they worshiped. The difference of culture brings so much change to the architecture of different countires.
8. How does Bai Minority architecture differ from other Chinese architecture?
There are many different chinese races, and though some of them are similar, many are extremly different. I am pretty sure that some superstitions are the same throughout the chinese cultures, such as lucky animals or colors. But the religions will be different. This is, again, affected by different religon. Not all chinese races have the same religon, and with different belifs, there are different ways of decorating/building you home.
9. Who designs the buildings?
I was thinking that maybe all the local houses follow the same layout, so there are no real designs. There could just be one plan that is used whenever a new house in needed. Though I realized that there must be someone who desings buildings, as there are different formats for different types of buildings (ex: shop, school, hotel). This led me to think that there could either be a local architect, or an archetict the village needs to hire from a different village or city.
10. Who builds the building?
I think that, like in other places, someone's job is a construction worker. Though I was wondering about that, as in a small village, there are only so many constructions you can work on. I do not think there is a new building needed every week. So if there was a construction worker, what would he be doing if there are no buildings being made? This made me wonder if people have double jobs. Maybe there is someone who works at a shop regularly, but when people are needed to build a house, they can help, too.
See Phase 3 for more details.
Other things that may be helpful to know for Xizhou may include getting familiar with the different architecture of the four big Bai clans, Yan, Dong, Yang and Zhao. I also think that becoming more educated about the actual process of construstion for builinds will be helpful. I believe looking through alumni's information about my topic would be very helpful, too.
I will now be moving onto Phase 2, there, I will be finding helpful resources.