Traditional imperial living spaces were meticulously planned and constructed. The institutions involved in the planning had well-defined roles, including surveying and measurement, drawing and design, materials estimation, construction execution, and final inspection. The scale of involvement was vast, requiring significant human and material resources.
During the Qing Dynasty, following the architectural traditions of the Han ethnic group and incorporating Manchu customs, the imperial residences exhibited unique architectural features. Whether it was the palace planning for state affairs, the management of leisure gardens, the construction of temples for rituals and blessings, or the building of mausoleums for eternal rest, each aspect was meticulously managed. For major projects, the emperor would delegate trusted high-ranking officials such as princes, ministers, and officials from the Imperial Household Department to organize the "Construction Bureau" (also known as the Imperial Commission Construction Bureau) to oversee the construction. Their construction reports, material cost estimates, and quantity records provide valuable insights into Qing Dynasty imperial architecture.
Among the extensive teams involved in imperial construction projects, there was a unit within the "Construction Bureau" known as the "Styling office," responsible for project planning and design. This unit was the core department of the construction process, and its leader was referred to as the "Chief Planner." Members of the Lei family served in this unit for several generations, with some even reaching the highest position of "Chief Planner." The Lei family participated in numerous imperial construction projects, leaving behind a wealth of architectural drawings, models, and documentary materials. These precious records, known as the "Lei style architecture, " were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register-Asia and the Pacific in 2007. In this exhibition, we have enriched the content by borrowing the late Qing Dynasty architectural drawings of Lei Siqi (1826-1876) from the National Taiwan University Library, and we would like to express our gratitude for their cooperation.
The exhibition is divided into three sections: "Imperial Architectural Drawings," "Imperial Architects – The Lei Style Architecture," and " Classical Architecture in Modern Taiwan." The first section showcases selected Qing Dynasty imperial architectural drawing files from our collection. The second section introduces important members of the Lei family and their architectural design cases. The final section explores the continuation of traditional classical architecture in Taiwan, highlighting representative works in the early stages of cultural development after the relocation of the Nationalist government to Taiwan.