Means of Entry

Chapter 3.1: The Imperial Architectural Office

Take in boundless waters of a thousand hectares; Receive the lyricism of the seasons. The shade of parasol trees fills the grounds; The shade of scholar trees forms a courtyard. Planted willows follow the embankment; Cultivated plum trees encircle the building. Thatched reed and groves of bamboo; They run long and deep. Brocade of mountainous screens; A lofty gathering of thousands. Though made by man, they appear as if from the heavens. --Cultivating Gardens, Ji Cheng (1582-ca. 1642), Ming dynasty

Architects in the Lei Family played an important role in the history of garden architecture at the Old Summer Palace. This family managed important imperial architectural projects from the Kangxi through the Qianlong reigns. The relationship between the Lei Family and emperors is well known. The buildings designed by the Lei Family consequently became known as the “Lei Type,” and regarded as part of world memory heritage.

This section of the exhibit presents the process of designing garden architecture illustrated with precious “Lei Type” models, offering a glimpse at the inner workings of the imperial architectural office.

Chapter 3.2: Garden Design and Views on Geomancy

The Old Summer Palace represented a grand synthesis of major Chinese garden styles, with the exhibit area having a natural covering for the entry image. From the history and workflow processes of the Lei Family, audiences can better understand construction at the Old Summer Palace. With such elements as potted flowers, Lake Tai garden rocks, and stone tablets, visitors experience the beauty of garden art. This is complemented by the writings found in such classic texts as Cultivating Gardens and Suyuan Manual of Rocks.