Ancient Asian Architecture

Ancient Asian Architecture lesson plan

Architecture reflects both time and place. Explore the intriguing characteristics of buildings in ancient Asia.

  • 1.

    Newer buildings are replacing many of the historic ones throughout Asia. Choose an Asian country in which to explore traditional architecture. China is the example shown here.

  • 2.

    One way that architectural historians know how ancient Chinese buildings looked is from clay models found in tombs. These models were buried with the dead person to make them feel "at home" in the next world. Study pictures and photographs of preserved buildings from the Asian country of your choice. How did peasants live? In what kinds of homes did wealthy families live?

  • 3.

    Cover your art area with newspaper. Using Crayola® Watercolor Paints, paint a peasant's or noble family's home. For example, the Forbidden City in Beijing is a large-scale version of a noble's house. Nobles lived in a wooden or bamboo frame house with brick or bamboo wattle plastered over with clay or pounded earth.

  • 4.

    Be sure to include the unique characteristics of the Asian country's architecture, such as overhanging eaves and upturned roof supports.


  • Students research aspects of historic Asian architecture.
  • Students discuss elements of architecture from a selected country, considering form and function as well as building materials, religious significance, and other characteristics.
  • Students identify and draw a building exhibiting the characteristics of ancient Chinese or other Asian architecture.


  • Build a replica of the home you drew. Construct it with Crayola Model Magic or recycled boxes. Be sure to include architectural details.
  • Compare and contrast traditional Chinese architecture with other ancient buildings in Asian countries such as Tibet, Japan, Laos, Thailand, and India. What aspects of those cultures and geography influenced the construction of their buildings? What featur
  • Study Feng Shui, a system of design and placement developed in the third century BCE to determine when and where a building is built and how it is decorated. Do you think a classroom could be arranged to reflect Feng Shui principles?