Small yard houses are popular in the south. So-called Small Yards are, in fact, also open-air courtyards, but their area is smaller, since the southern regions are hot, rainy and wet, and there are many mountain areas and hills. The regions are densely populated but narrow in area, so residences pay attention to sunshine prevention and to ventilation as well as to fireproofing. The layout is dense and teeming with bui1dings that, therefore, are mostly small yard houses. Their basic unit takes horizontal, long and square small yard as the core. Surrounded by buildings on all sides, or three sides -- left, right and back -- sunshine seldom comes in. The narrow and tall small yards play the role of breaking the wind and facilitate ventilation. The principal room faces the small yard and is completely open. All houses drain water out of the small yards, and geomancy says this is preventing money from flowing out. Corbie gables often appear in the periphery, which is helpful to preventing the spread of fire.
Corbie gable, also called fire-sealing gable, is a major molding characteristic of south Chinese architecture. The wall stands above the roof, and the outline is in the setback type, varied and rich. The wall surface is plastered with lime powder, and the wall top is covered with gray tile wall eaves, so that the white wall and gray tile make it bright, plain and elegant.
Small yard houses are most typical in southernAnhuiProvince (especiallyHuizhouPrefecture) and northernJiangxiProvince. The basic plane is in the口orⅡshape; if a small yard is added behind the principal house, then the layout will become a "U" or "H" shape; if buildings are added to the rear part of the back small yard, then the layout will be in the "日" or "A" shape.
To sum up, the main characteristics of Huizhou residences are as follows:
1. Great attention is paid to the location of the village, usually at the foot of mountains or along the rivers.
2. The layout is well handled, usually with 2 to 3 small yards, or sometimes 36 small yards at the most. Small yard houses feature white wall, black tile, Corbie gables, engraved brick gate tower and wooden doors and windows, etc.