China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Liao Creation of Space: Bracket Sets Design Method of Yingxian Pagoda

Friday, July 6
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

Yingxian Pagoda (应县木塔) is the oldest extant timber pagoda in China. A paragon of “Dian Ge” (殿阁) the formal characteristics of Yingxian Pagoda have been discussed from multiple perspectives. However, previous research stopped at the level of description regarding the variation of the bracket sets, foregoing deeper interrogation of the cause and meanings of such variation.


Through a multi-perspective study on the spatial features of outer and inner space of the pagoda, I argue that the ultimate intention of construction practices is spatial creation, and will demonstrate how the diverse architectural elements of the pagoda participate in this process.


Yingxian Pagoda is composed of an outer pillar circle and an inner pillar circle, constituting a complete external space. In each layer, space is divided into kernel space and surrounding space. The external space, kernel space, and surrounding space are respectively formed by the pillars, beams and bracket sets of each circle. These architectural elements will be interpreted as an element of interior and exterior spatial composition.  


My analysis of spatial representation will uncover the methods applied by the original designers as they incorporated the bracket. The design procedure of traditional timber architecture is the result of the confluence of construction, structural function, decorative demand, and other valences of spatial and structural design. My analysis will interpret the formal characteristics of Yingxian Pagoda from the designer's perspective, offering new perspectives on this complex sacred space.

Jing Wen

Tongji University Department of Architecture, United States

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3 - A Liao Creation of Space: Bracket Sets Design Method of Yingxian Pagoda



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