Fengshui vs. Sustainability

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

Feng Shui is big data collected by ancient Chinese to analyse the relationship between the natural environment and the built environment. Feng Shui strategy is commonly implemented by specialised experts often named as Feng Shui Master. Feng Shui master is highly technical and competent in data reading and site analysing. Through the Feng Shui implementation, it brings peace and improves productivity and fortune to people.

#FengShui is widely believed in Chinese culture, but not many people understand the science behind it and some facts still remain mysterious.

One of my projects in southern China received good praise by a prominent Feng Shui master after we suggested some site-building layout rearrangements. This triggered my attention to the link between Feng Shui and Science.

Our ancient built cities and buildings used to have a bigger window facing the summer sun direction, smaller window facing the winter sun direction.  This is to prevent the rain splash and heavy wind, to allow natural breeze, avoid fire, stay close to the water and nature, avoid polluting source and enjoy convenient transportation. Those are completely inline with our modern sustainable living environment.

Feng Shui masters are scientists because they will consider geophysics, hydrogeology, cosmic astrology, meteorology, environmental landscape science, architecture, ecology, and human life informatics. This might be the reason that the Feng Shui is considered a mysterious thing to us. In this article, I'm aligning those Feng Shui facts with sustainability knowledge. Please note that this only covers the Feng Shui theory which can be explained by science, and please approach a real Feng Shui master if you have any query related to Feng Shui consultancy.

Feng shui discuss the good energy (qi), the bad energy (sha), and uses the objects to converge, avoid, and merge the energy.

It starts at:

The four compass points

The four compass points are North, South, East and West. We use this for directions.

In Feng shui, four symbols are representing these four compass points.

- At North, there is a black turtle with a snake on the back. It's called Xuan Wu 玄武. It represents water and winter. Winter is the time we collect and store things, so this is the "back" of our house and should be designed high.

  • In Feng Shui, North should be "closed", and shouldn't have river and busy road.

  • In Sustainability design strategy, cold winter wind comes from the North, and the project site should avoid the chilled winter wind. Hence building design should be "closed" to block the winter wind, and also not to have any further evaporation effect (like wind blow through a river). At the same time, the winter wind is usually stronger so that busy road which generates traffic pollution should not be at the north side of the building (unless it's properly blocked by design).

- At South is a red finch (note some articles call it Phoenix), it's called Zhu Que 朱雀, it represents fire and summer. Summer is hot/warm, bright and beautiful, the south side should be an open space.

  • In Feng Shui, South should be clear and open, to welcome fortune, and promote wealthy.

  • In Sustainability design strategy, summer is hot and needs cool ventilation to remove the head build in the development, so the project will open the south (or southeast) to channel the wind into the development to create better ventilation. This will create a nice and cosy outdoor environment for occupants.

- At East is the green dragon, it's called Qing long 青龙, it represents wood and spring. In China, spring represents the beginning of life, it means prosperity and good help.

  • In Feng Shui, it suggests having higher development on the East side (or left side), as the dragon represents the male in the household.

  • From Sustainability point of view, the morning sun is at East, afternoon Sun is at West. The afternoon sun is hot and accumulates heat in the development, which should be shaded to prevent heat gain during summertime.

- At West is the white tiger, it's called bai hu 白虎, it represents gold and autumn. Autumn/Fall is the season of harvesting.

  • In Chinese tradition, they see the left hand as the higher position as the right hand, hence in Feng Shui, left side should be higher/taller than the right side.

  • From Sustainability point of view, in the northern hemisphere, the afternoon sun is usually hotter and shine for a longer time, creates more shade at west will help to reduce the heat gain into the room during summertime. Allowing more west sun during wintertime helps to bring more warm heat into the room, to reduce the heating need.

At the project site, Feng Shui looks at the relationship between types of buildings, road, water body and surrounding nature. A simple illustration below to explain the theory align with science:

In the above images, case 1 is a main road "hugging" the house. This can be good if the distance of the main road is in a comfortable distance than the house, otherwise, the "hugging" will create pressure to the building occupants. From the sustainability point of view, traffic creates noise, pollution, and movement disturbance. The closer the main traffic to the building, the higher the negative impact; Case 2 and 5 in the above image represents the case that the main road is too close to the house and the way it bends may lead to a potential car accident. Psychologically affecting the people in the house.; Case 3 is similar to case 2 in terms of potential disturbance, and the closed ring loop may send the signal of "confusion", "stuck in the loop"; Case 4 in Feng Shui represents the "dead end" when a car drives and face the high dead end.

In the sustainable design process, the consultant will produce traffic pollution analysis to show the potential vehicle emission and how the emission is affecting the buildings. In the event that building is placed in the non-favourable location, the Project may also consider trees, multistorey carparks and those non-permanent occupied structures to reduce the traffic and noise pollution.

Yin and Yang

In Chinese tradition, yin and yang represent the basic relationship, and it is also the natural law and the fact and reality. Yin and yang beautifully reflected how we, as a human being knows and recognises the world. The ancient realised and understood that the nature is balanced, against and support each other, creates harmony, like Heaven and Earth, Day and Night, Sun and Moon, Cold and Hot, Winter and Summer, Male and Female, Up and Down, Life and Death, etc.

Everything in the universe lives in a relationship, the only constant is change, and human has very limited capacity to challenge this natural law. Therefore, we need to learn to accept what is the "opposite" and agree with the fact of this dynamic.

In Science and Sustainability theory, the design is also looking at the "balance", reflects the natural law: When we bring in the wind, we will bring in the rain; when we bring in the light, we bring in the heat; when we bring in the air, we bring in the pollutant; when we bring in the nature, we bring in the noise and disturbance; when we bring in energy, we bring in cost; when we bring in award, we bring in critics, etc. Hence, in the consultancy vocabulary, one of the commonly used words is: "depends" ...

It is the art behind the science to create this balance, and that beauty is in the process! Enjoy a balanced life!

Cheers ^^



Picture from: wechat 菩提之门

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