Dignity, sympathy, participation

Direct, sober, unassuming

Extending from folk construction to urban residences, the characteristic qualities of materials were often employed to yield a subdued and sober impression. This was seen in the expression of densities and weight, and in visual strategies emphasizing simple shapes, slight decoration and moderate colours. A measure of rough finish also provided a feeling of directness.

The effect was one of sobriety, and the promise of duration. Something to take comfort in, an atmosphere of calm and stability.

On the left a bamboo door in Jiangnan (west of Shanghai) is finished with a measure of craft that shows care with an otherwise inexpensive material. This fineness is emphasized by the tailored stone frame and elegant decorative finishing of the lintel.

More substantial is a stone door from the same region. Massive and plain, it is covered with relatively thin stones of related (but not identical) colour, and set with a regular and decorative pattern of bosses.