East Asian (Chinese) Architecture

I was inspired to model some sort of timber building in the Chinese style one day when reading an architectural book and it became my first project in 2.8. I have begun without deciding on the purpose of the building nor its overall layout (which may be a bad idea).

Modeling began on a section of the front facade and I started from the cylindrical pillar up. The building’s internal structural elements would be modeled along with the exterior as I hope to present a more complete and detailed representation of the architectural style. Mind that the layout of the support frame is based on Chinese architecture during the Ming and Qing Dynasties as the two periods are much closer to present therefore more structures of that style are preserved which I may draw reference from. However, the look and feel of the structure will be closer to the architecture of the more ancient Tang and Song Dynasty and perhaps even Japanese seeing as they are more rustic and have a more modest yet graceful look.

Note that I do take liberty in altering the design as I see fit since this is an artistic interpretation at its core and not an architectural recreation.

Pillar and beams first

Brackets according to reference (yes I know it’s a modern recreation but it’s the clearest irl image of the brackets I could find)

Interior of the brackets modled according to this pic

extruding beam tip over the pillar brackets as seen in the first ref. pic



Started on the corner, I copied a section of the facade and begun work. Note that the distance between the corner pillar and the adjacent pillar are two thirds of the distance between the. I used the distance from one bracket stack to another as units of length, between pillars of the facade there are two bracket stacks and three spaces and on the corner it’s one bracket stack and two spaces.

Heres the main framework in place, also touched up the beam tips to match their shape in my reference. Time to move onto the insanely complex corner bracket stack.

I went through a few Chinese articles in order to understand how these brackets work, I took a considerable amount of time just tweaking every individual piece so that they look balanced. it was quite an effort but I’m very happy with the results on it at the end.

Today’s render


Frame and Walls

Some changes to interior beams and frames, also I assembled some very simplistic wall elements and door sections to complete the face of the building.

designs for the walls and windows are inspired by a modern Tang styled temple built in Hong Kong:


Begun work on the roof support beams, apparently one of the hardest tasks in this project.
The uniform section was made with ease by array modifiers after modeling one element, but the challenge lies in the corners.

Corner Roof

I looked into a Chinese blog modeling traditional architecture to begin, then proceeded to analyze the closeups of roofs as well as plans.

To summarize, every round beam on the corners fan out from one pillar, the end cross-section is round and each piece is distinct.
I attempted to use modifiers, curves, and lattices but none of the results out of these methods are satisfying so I began to do them individually by hand.

Results after 4 hours of tweaking, they are still incomplete as for the time being yet still possess a sense of geometric beauty.

and render


Fascinating in depth study!

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Completed the second layer of roof support beams. Notice how the cupports near the corner tilts upwards slightly.

Building upon the second roof level (basically copied the first level)

Stone column bases are one of the most important components as they keep the timber at an elevated position from the ground to avoid rotting from moisture. I can use these bases to visualize the layout of pillars in the model. Here is an image I took in the Forbidden City as reference:

The bases in the Forbidden City are actually quite minimalistic compared to some of the more elaborately sculpted pieces which have engraved decorations patterns. It’s simply circular at top and a square at the base.

laying out column bases

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much progress has been made this week. I’ve used the array and mirror modifier to complete the facades on all sides, tweaked the structure to fit, added the timber structure under the main roof, completed windows and doors, and layed down the roof supports.

column bases, also the foundation layout

Main timber structure

Jumping into the roof structure, traditional Chinese roofs are supported with a timber structure quite different from western wooden constructs. Here is an image illustrating the difference.

The Chinese structure bears the load of the roof by stacks of beams directing it’s force down vertically.

The completed structure. (don’t remember where I stored the refrences for it)

crossection of the structure

roof supports Installed


Interior render with cycles:


nice work for wood structure

are you specialize in architecture or wood structure?

I saw some NOVA docu on these and very difficult to understand how these work!

but interesting subject

are you using cycles or EEVEE ?

happy bl

Your Chinese architectural skills must have levelled up 10x since starting this study.

are you specialize in architecture or wood structure?

Actually I’m not specialized at all, at most I’m a random highschooler who happened to have visited the Forbidden City in Beijing this summer and got addicted to Chinese architectural books. I began my interest in architecture three years ago after a visit to Italy but never got anywhere and only months ago have I started on anything. Researching was overwhelmingly joyful as I had to dig into every detail of the structure of these buildings.

blender or EEVEE

Blender, I’m still unfamiliar with EEVEE atm and personally I enjoy PBR.

Your Chinese architectural skills must have leveled up 10x since starting this study.

I started with practically none and my knowledge grew significantly along with the project.

I wonder how this is possible from a structural point of view
can you explain how force goes only vertical ?

if I remember well from the NOVA special
the columns are not fixe on the soil they are free to move in case of earthquakes!

thanks for feedback

happy bl


Modeled roof tiles and begun exploring how to place them with modifiers.

A lazy approch to building roofs would be to just place cylinders over the roof or just use displacement materials. I decided to do it the proper way and model the individual elements cause why the hell not?

There are three classes of tiles on a Chinese building, the cylindrical tile「筒瓦」, the cylindrical tile with cover「瓦当」, and the plate tile「板瓦」(from left to right). I’ve made them using the boolean modifier and manually cleaned up the geometry.

It took loads of experiments and tutorials before I settled down on how to place these elements. Originally I was thinking about scattering these elements over a plane and use a lattice deformation. But using the hair partical generator wasn’t nearly as customizable and simple as I’ve expected. After hours of fruitless messing around I’ve decided to array my tiles along a curve then further arraying the resulting row.

Heres the overall effect with tiles placed on one of the roof surfaces. Further tweakign is clearly needed for the materials and whatnot.

(free HDRI from HDRI haven)


Progress on roof tile placement.

After hours of playing around with curves fruitlessly, I’ve switched to using the lattice modifier to shape my roof.

Then I’ve chopped off the excess portion using the good’ol boolean modifier

The effects are not exactly up to expectations as the lattice deformation produced the side-effect of unwanted distortion to my tile elements which are dissatisfying. However, I would tolerate the imperfections for the time being as a I’ve yet to discover a better method for the job.

(closeup shot, the camera angle somewhat compensated the distorting effects of the lattice deformation)

Overall effect:

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Astounding accuracy. Big fan of the model


Installed more tiles onto the roof and modified roof incline. Up to this point work on this project has been done on a Macbook Air, which is slowly becoming insufficient in handling this heavy file.

At this point we have nearly 12 million faces on the model and any work is becoming increasingly computationally intensive. It takes forever to do anything and I am considering moving work to my PC some point next week