It costs a lot of money for the maintenance of buildings particularly those with important cultural value like the Confucius temple in Kaohsiung. Repairs and replacements need to reflect the original. To save money shortcuts are sometimes made with disastrous results.
Fake lattice at Confucius temple
The Confucius Temple on Lotus Lake in the southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung is a case in point. What appears to be traditional Chinese lattice on all the doors surrounding the inner quadrangle, on closer inspection, turn out to be thin plywood cut-outs glued either side of perspex windows. They are poorly cut and sealed resulting in the plywood delaminating over time and falling from the windows.
It’s a pity more money wasn’t spent the first time around so the job at the Confucius temple could have been done properly.
The Grand Hotel in Taipei is an imposing classical Chinese building located at Yuan Hill in the Zhongshan district of Taipei. It was was built by Chiang Kai-shek, under the direction of his wife, to treat visiting foreign guests. The Grand Hotel was completed in 1973 and became an instant Taipei landmark.
Grand Hotel extravagance
Exploring the decoration of the Grand Hotel is a visual feast because it is such a wonderful example of classical Chinese “palace-style” design. The huge foyer and grand staircase are overwhelming at first sight.
Below are several decorative items that caught my eye.
Interior courtyard with lattice balustrade and corner brackets
Connecting corridor decoration
Lattice used on a staircase
Nice ice-ray lattice divider iin the foyer
No trip to Taipei would be complete without a visit to the Grand Hotel and having some coffee and cake in the smart café in the foyer area.
This house has a very *lived in* feel to it. Cheap garden lattice can be used almost anywhere in the garden to great effect. It is cheap, easy to use and is usually treated. The only place it should be used on a house is to disguise the space underneath them in flood prone areas. Though garden lattice can add charm to a home, as a decorative treatment on a verandah it fails to impress. This house looks like it has been rented for a very long time.
Lose the garden lattice
Removing the garden lattice on this verandah would make a big difference to this house. An even bigger improvement would be made by losing the old cane blind as well and cleaning up a bit. A nice coat of paint would be the icing on the cake.
Lattice window grilles based on traditional Chinese lattice designs can be found all over Taiwan. They can be seen used in many buildings including restaurants, shopping centres and hotels. Many fine examples of lattice window grilles can also be seen at many of the suburban railway stations while travelling on the MRT rail system. Below are two such examples.
Examples of lattice window grilles
At the Guandu station stop in Taipei can be found nicely designed lattice window grilles that are far more decorative than plain bars would have been. When visiting the famous Longshan Temple in Taipei don’t forget to check out the lattice grilles at the railway station there as well.
Open window lattice in Guandu railway station, Taipei
Lattice window grilles at Longshan Temple railway station, Taipei
This Chinese lattice screen makes a nice room divider at the entrance to a Taipei restaurant. The lattice screen uses the classic ice ray design which is a variant of traditional Chinese lattice as described by Daniel Sheets Dye in his book “A Grammar of Chinese Lattice”.
Chinese lattice windows
Although not used to the extent it was last century Chinese lattice screens can be found all over Taiwan and China. Its great fun spotting examples in buildings as you drive around the cities. I noticed several nice ice ray lattice windows in the windows of an administration building at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan as I was leaving.
While walking down the street towards the old town of Xidi I saw many buildings with fine examples of Chinese lattice decoration. The shops in the picture on the right are a nice group. Extensive use of lattice in the windows is immediately evident while the overhead grilles in the two buildings on the right compliment the overall look.
The over zealous addition of lattice decoration can result in a slightly “over the top” commercial look as is well illustrated in the shop shown below. The overhead grilles don’t work well against a flat wall. They need space behind them to work effectively. Generally the whole look is too busy.
Even modern tubular steel construction can benefit from the addition of lattice work. Here is an example of decoration on the otherwise bland cable car entrance walkway atop Mount Huang in Anhui Province in China. Also known as Mount Huangshan (or literally “yellow mountain”) it is known as “the loveliest mountain in China”. Though a little on the simple side (cost restraints?) it still adds interest and a sense of detail to an otherwise utilitarian structure.
Hongcun village is located near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan, in China. It is famous for its ingenious water system where water runs in ditches to every household and is finally gathered in a small lake in the front of the village. It is also famous for the exquisite carvings on the beams and columns of its houses. Chengzhi Hall is the most representative and is praised as the “Folk Imperial Palace”. Numerous varieties of gilded figures and patterns are carved on the columns, beams and door frames.
The picturesque bridge leading into Hongcun was used in the 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”.