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Top plan of a kid’s room (thanks to SmartDraw)

There aren’t any standing buildings left from the Shang Dynasty, so we know about Shang Dynasty architecture mainly from top plans. These are drawings of what the building would look like if you were flying over it looking down. To get a better idea of how top plans relate to buildings, try drawing your own top plan of your room, your classroom, or your house.

You can draw your top plan on a piece of graph paper, or use an online drafting application like Smart Draw or SketchUp. Use a tape measure and write in the dimensions of each part of the room. Be sure to show where the doors and windows are, and where the furniture is. You can figure out the total area of the room, too.

Think about top plans as you draw. What are top plans good at showing? What is hard to show on a top plan? How do these problems change the way we think about Shang Dynasty buildings?

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Bibliography and further reading about ancient Chinese architecture:

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