Proceedings of the Japan Academy, Series B
Online ISSN : 1349-2896
Print ISSN : 0386-2208
ISSN-L : 0386-2208
Ancient Chinese capital models — Measurement system in urban planning —
Shuji FUNO
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2017 Volume 93 Issue 9 Pages 724-745


Measurement systems are very important in urban design. This article reviews the theories of grid plans, particularly with respect to the spatial formations of ancient capital cities in Asia, and clarifies three Chinese Capital Models. The “Zhōu lǐ” Capital Model (Z) is based on the ancient text “Zhōu lǐ” that makes mention of the ideal city. However, because the description of the physical plan of the city is very brief and includes contradictory elements, conclusions regarding the specifics of the city design are extremely difficult to reach. This article proposes the most appropriate Model (Z) as an architype of the ideal Chinese city. Interestingly, there are no excavated examples of Model (Z). The two existing models, the Chang’an Capital Model (C), which is well known as the model for ancient Japanese capitals like Heiankyo (the present Kyoto) and the Dà Yuán (Dadu) Capital Model (D), the model for the city that is today Beijing, are described as Variants I and II, with a focus on the land division system of bo (street blocks).

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