Traditional town layout looking down from Wild Goose Pagoda, Xian.
Single storey houses surround a small internal courtyard. The courtyards are normally separated by narrow alleyways or 'hutongs'. The key feature is that the buildings look inwards to the centre rather than typically in Europe looking outwards across a garden. A courtyard house will have the main functional rooms arranged according to feng shui principles. The entrance gate in the South-East corner and the main building on the North side. The leading members of the family (and a courtyard house would typically have three generations of the family living side-by-side) would have the prestigious rooms opposite the entrance gate.
This archive photograph was taken by a SACU member in the early 1980s.