A traditional housing form from China called siheyuan; without direct translation, it means something like ‘courtyard house’. It was most common in the north, in and around Beijing but was developed into a typology for many building uses, not just residential.

It is a cluster of buildings around several courtyards always with north to the top of the drawing. The main residence is 2/3rds into the compound. This is a noblemans residence with young children living in the northern spaces, married sons with their wives in the eastern parts and unmarried daughters in the western side.

This is a house with layers of separation from the outside. First comes the main gate, the damen. On entering, the main courtyard is beyond the spirit screen or yingbi. On the central axis before the neiyuan or main courtyard is the flower hung gate or chuihuamen.