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Fengshui and Chinese Construction

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Jan. 17, 2024

Fengshui can be found in many Chinese construction design principles — from a grand city's location and layout, to building layouts and orientations, to the interior placement of furnishings.

What Fengshui Is

Eight symbols Eight Trigrams.

Fengshui (/fnng-shway/), literally 'wind-water', is a traditional practice in China, originating from the Chinese metaphysics of human harmony with nature. It's a form of geomancy linked to Taoism.

Why People Use Fengshui

Fengshui adherents believe that a building or place with a good fengshui layout has an indispensable positive impact on the lives of those living there.

Designing a harmonious and well-balanced environment, and a properly organizing living space, is believed to attract good luck, prosperity, and health.

How Fengshui Is Applied to Construction

For 5,000 years or more, fengshui provided the guidelines for traditional Chinese construction activities.

Settlement Layouts

From villages to cities, to homes for the dead like the Ming Tombs, Chinese people have been obsessed by good fengshui.


Hongcun, a must-see sight near the Yellow Mountains, is also one of the most famous places with good fengshui in China. The whole village layout follows fengshui, forming a shape like a buffalo.

Under the geomancers' skillful design, the village has a complicated and practical water system, which has served houses and gardens with water for over 900 years. (Good fengshui often requires water in front.)

Other properties of settlements with good fengshui include: mountains behind (preferably blocking evil influence, like the north wind, or enemies), a north-south axis, and an outlook on fertile land. Read more on China Cities with Good Fengshui.

Construction Layouts

Designing a building to have a harmonious flow of qi is no mean feat!

As a small example, fengshui is taken into consideration when choosing door and window orientations. Front doors are normally south facing, to catch the most sunlight.

Design Features

Besides a building's overall layout, interior decoration, furnishing, and the inclusion of objects like plants also contribute to the fengshui.

For example, planting big trees in the yard is not recommended, because fengshui masters deem that they will bring disease. Big trees not only block sunshine, but also airflow, creating bad fengshui.

Fengshui Today

From prehistoric to imperial times, fengshui was a well-kept secret, and only mastered by a minority, though its popularity has been increasing.

Nowadays, fengshui is widely applied in China, particularly in rural areas, and is more widely understood.

It has also become quite popular around the world. To make residences, many banks, hotels, malls, and even skyscrapers more auspicious, architects have been designing according to fengshui principles.

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