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Courtyard Housing for Health and Happiness: Architectural Multiculturalism in North America

Health and happiness are fundamental to human quality of life. The United Nations World Happiness Report 2012 reflects a new worldwide call for governments to include happiness as a criterion to their policies. The Healthy Cities or Happy Cities movement has been endorsed by the WHO since 1986, and a Healthy House or Happy Home is a critical constituent of a healthy city or a happy city. Nevertheless, the concept has not been fully explored. Existing literature on the healthy house has often focused on the technical, economic, environmental, or biochemical aspects, while current scholarship on the happy home commonly centers on interior decoration. Few studies have addressed the importance of social and cultural factors that affect the health and happiness of the occupants. Identifying four key themes in Chinese philosophy to promote health and happiness at home, this book links architecture with Chinese philosophy, social sciences and the humanities, and in doing so, argues that Architectural Multiculturalism is a vital ideology to guide housing design in North America. Using both qualitative and quantitative evidence gathered from ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese living in the USA and Canada, the study proposes that the Courtyard is a central component to promote social and cultural health and happiness of residents. It further details courtyard garden house design strategies that combine a sense of privacy with a feeling of community as represented in courtyard housing. The schemes may have universal implications.

Reviews: "This is a unique book that traverses a wide range of topics including philosophy, oriental wisdom, psychology, and modern housing design. It aims to answer a central question - how to design a healthy house and a happy home - so practical and yet so eternally important for us all. The study proposes courtyard garden houses as a paradigmatic model. It promotes multiculturalism in architecture and in social life as a whole, which is so central to a new global sensitivity on the rise in North America and elsewhere. In a word, this book has masterfully integrated a range of topics from philosophy to building design, addressed a profound yet practical issue of housing for a healthy and happy life, and promoted cross-cultural thinking so central to a new sensitivity on the rise in the twenty-first century. It is a great book that addresses issues practical yet central to life for everyone - a book everyone should read - for reorganizing your interior, building a new home, debating for a neighbourhood, or simply pursuing harmony in your personal and social life." – Jianfei Zhu, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

"After a sociable childhood in a Beijing courtyard, Donia Zhang's international studies have led to this insightful publication. Contemporary urbanism separates, rather than joining us together; Zhang shows that courtyards informed by Feng Shui and other timeless guides, can result in sociable, fulfilling, living environments for communities across North America." – Richard Hayward, Emeritus Professor, University of Greenwich, UK

 "With this new book, Dr Donia Zhang goes well beyond her earlier studies of courtyard housing in China by first reviewing 20th century courtyard housing developments in North America. Then, at a time of increasing multi-culturalism, she looks forward and confidently predicts that courtyard designs will emerge strong worldwide in the 21st century. Her subject matter ranges widely in promoting a housing form that is both healthy as a structure and happy as a home. This is a book that will be welcomed by architects, planners, and even those contemplating owning a home." – Ronald G. Knapp, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus, State University of New York, New Paltz, USA

"As the book focuses on courtyard houses in the USA and Canada – both countries that are built on the principle of diversity and immigration from different countries – she also elaborates on guidelines and policies for ethnic heritage preservation and the architecture of multiculturalism. Zhang successfully bridges the cultural divide between the ancient-old traditional Chinese way of dwelling with North American forms of living. Her book offers adequate solutions to forms of cohabitation amongst people that foster a stronger sense of physical and social benefits." – Ulduz Maschaykh, McMaster University, Canada

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Courtyard Housing and Cultural Sustainability: Theory, Practice, and Product

Cultural sustainability is a very important aspect of the overall sustainability framework and is regarded as the fourth pillar alongside the other three: environmental, economic, and social sustainability. However, the concept is neither fully explored, nor widely accepted or recognized. This book elicits the interplay of nature-culture-architecture and theorizes the concept of cultural sustainability and culturally sustainable architecture. It identifies four key themes in Chinese philosophy: Harmony with Heaven, Harmony with Earth, Harmony with Humans, and Harmony with Self , along with Greek philosopher Aristotle's physics: form, space, matter, and time, it sets them as criteria to evaluate the renewed and new courtyard housing projects constructed in China since the 1990s.

Using an innovative architectural and social science approach, this book examines the political, economic, social, and spatial factors that affect cultural sustainability. Supported by a multiplicity of data including: field surveys, interviews with residents, architects, and planners, time diaries, drawings, photos, planning documents, observation notes, and real estate brochures, the book proposes new courtyard garden house design strategies that promote healthy communities and human care for one another, a concept that is universally applicable. The volume is a first opportunity to take a holistic view, to encompass eastern and western, tangible and intangible, cultures in the theorization of cultural sustainability and culturally sustainable architecture. It is a comprehensive contribution to architectural theory.

Reviews: "The book is well illustrated with examples of both remnant and new courtyard housing including plans for new housing developments by the author herself. This book will appeal to all interested in heritage and conservation." – Urban Design

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Courtyard Houses of Beijing: Past, Present, and Future

Classical courtyard houses of Beijing (siheyuan) as a housing typology have attracted interest of people from all walks of life. Due to deterioration, the large-scale demolition of these houses since the 1990s has given rise to heated debates, nationally and internationally. In this book, the author traced the history and design philosophy of classical Chinese courtyard house; introduced, evaluated, and examined some modern interpretations of it. She further proposed a standardized design template of new Courtyard Garden House for ordinary citizens or middle-income families in Beijing, or elsewhere in the world. The scheme is grounded on the Nine Squares land ownership system in ancient China, urban design studies on robust block dimensions, the optimum courtyard dimensions, and the surveys. The book is intended for scholars and architectural students who care about the past, present, and future housing development in Beijing; it is also for architects and developers who would like to pursue the construction of the new courtyard garden house.

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Schoolyard Gardening as Multinaturalism: Theory, Practice, and Product

Environmental education and ecological literacy is evolving into a pedagogical field, with more and more schools today taking actions to create landscaped settings for natural learning than ever before. With these developments comes a need for an integrated book that provides both core philosophies as well as method. This comprehensive volume Schoolyard Gardening as Multinaturalism presents the first guide to ways of involving students in schoolyard gardening and designing sustainable schoolyard gardens. Influenced by Chinese Daoism, American Naturalism, Canadian Multiculturalism, and the architectural discipline, a new term Multinaturalism is suggested in response to Turners (1995) call for a better name of Post-Postmodernism. A conceptual model of Pillars of Student Involvement, as well as a design template for schoolyard gardens that is applicable in the northern hemisphere, are proposed. Schoolyard Gardening as Multinaturalism should help shed light on this exciting learning environment, and is highly recommended for educators, philosophers, designers, parents, or anyone who is planning to use gardens for teaching and learning.

Reviews: "Donia Zhang has written an interesting, earthy, and insightful book that gives the reader both practical things to do and philosophical issues to think about. Her blending of East and West in terms of philosophies and gardens comes from her life experiences and desire to bring together the near and the far." – Professor John Novak, Brock University

"...We are already into the results and effects of not being attentive to our world, and not treating our planet with compassion and care. This study is very timely and, yes I believe focuses on where there is hope for change, the children. She has taken on a most significant study, she writes with the energy and passion of being committed to a vision, one grounded in the hope of what is possible." – Dr Milree Latimer, Brock University

"It is a fine work, it really stands out, and it touches the soul." – Dr Constance Russell, Lakehead University; Dr Coral Mitchell, Brock University

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doniazhang@neolandschool.com
doniazhang@oxfordbrookes.net