Grids upon grids, grids within grids, are at the very foundation of the city of Suzhou. Planned and built some 2500 years ago, the city plan does not just relate to earth – according to ancient Chinese cosmology the city is gridded to match the perfection of the heavens.
The Ping Jiang Tu – map of Ping Jiang, an older name for Suzhou, is engraved on a stele and is housed in the Suzhou Museum. A new copy of the stele marks the entrance the busy Ping Jiang Lu – an alleyway full of renovated buildings, tea-shops, sellers of knick-knacks and wedding photogrpahers.
Teacups hang on a gridded plantstand, outside the shop front with its classical grid-patterned doors, framed by a floral-gridded print.
Suzhounese Classical Gardens contain an abundance of gridded windows, leading to secluded courtyards.
Sunlight reflects the window pattern in a pool at Cang Ling Ting, the Surging Waves Pavillion.
The old town of Suzhou has 8 city gates, each planned and constructed to match and connect to specific constellations in the heaven’s above. Within the city, a maze of canals and criss-cross alley ways was planned by Wuzixu to be in perfect balance with the heavens. Such deep cosmological principles were thought, at the time, to bring harmony and prosperity to a city. Throughout the long history of Suzhou, it has been known as a “prosperous city” and currently has one of the highest GDPs in China.
Grids upon grids, looking through gridded windows inside a gridded town, designed to bring the eye and the vision in harmony with all that is.
Suzhou, the gridded city.