The unique house scale and layout south of Yangtze River can be represented by that of Su Zhou and Hangzhou. The boundary walls are usually high and tough, for most of the houses are two-storied. Besides, the close link between two houses necessitates a screen wall in case of fire. The yard is usually not big with high buildings inside, which makes the open air part deeper.
The humid climate heightens the importance of ventilation. Accordingly, the gap between the wall and the structure in the local area is no more than one meter, promising an effective wind and lighting function. The layout of a decent family starts from a sedan parking lot, living room and the host's room to the rear room. At both wings are a flower hall, a study, a bedroom and a small garden or a theatrical stage. An average mansion has two to three parallel axis lines.
Whatever the size of the structure, the dwellings in the south bear sharp differences from those in the north, with numerous carvings and little color painting. The wall is made up of white tiles and green ash, while the wood is black brown or red brown, looking lighter and more elegant that that of the north.
Craftsmen in the south are intelligent and flexible enough to make water flow among the local residential area, making good use of varied terrains.
Waterways are blended with lanes among the residence, forming an entirely different and unique taste from the northern residents.
The local residents make the most out of space, as the land is rare and precious. Almost every house has a wharf outside. Housewives do laundry, wash vegetables and rice with river water. This also provides other boats with a place to park.
Compared with waterways, the lanes appear so narrow and can only allow a man and an ox to walk shoulder by shoulder. High walls sandwiching crooked lanes lead to a tranquil peace of mind.