The Occurrence of Nearness: A Study on an Essential Value in the Master of Net Garden, Suzhou, China

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Architectural heritage is facing great challenges in China today. Debates on principles, methods, technologies, and criteria under the context of rapid economic development and urbanisation is making the identification, understanding, and articulation of the essential values of architectural heritage a significant task. The meaning of Nearness, revealed by German philosopher Martin Heidegger as an intimacy of relatedness among beings, provides a fundamental perspective to re-examine an essential value of architectural heritage: the value that reveals the relationship between humanity and those basic conditions for its being that are imbedded within many architectural heritages as a spatial quality. Although Nearness has been seriously disrupted in the modern Chinese built environment, the classical literary garden contains it in high degree. However, what remains far from clear is how Nearness occurs in the garden spaces. In this research, the Master of Net Garden in Suzhou is selected as a case to explore the occurrence of Nearness, with a particular focus on several specific spatial examples. Employing phenomenological reduction, mapping, and space analysis as the main methods, this research aims at analysing and revealing the spatial conditions and mechanisms that are imbedded within the Garden that inspire Nearness. Combined with a discussion on Nearness within some works of contemporary Chinese architects who claim to have learned from the classical literary garden, the significance of this research is to explore an architectural methodology that allows Nearness to be studied, understood, evaluated, and inherited for the modern built environment.
Period19 Jul 2019
Event titleICAS 11 (Eleventh International Convention of Asia Scholars)
Event typeConference
LocationLeiden, Netherlands