SINGAPORE - An ancient ritual took centre stage at Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) on Tuesday when a roof beam was raised on an antique Chinese house.
The ritual is the equivalent of a topping-out ceremony for modern buildings and marked the end of the assembly of four antique structures – a pavilion, an opera stage and two houses, called Da Tong and Du Zhe.
The custom is still carried out today by Chinese craftsmen to mark the completion of the timber frame.
The four structures were donated by Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan in 2009 and date back 300 years to the Qing and Ming dynasties.
They were re-assembled last October after arriving from Hong Kong in 2010, but the final flourish came on Tuesday when the beam was placed on the highest point of the roof of the Da Tong house. A craftsman offered incense and toasted the deities of carpentry during the 30-minute ritual before reciting auspicious sayings as the beam was being raised.
The houses, which are named after places in China’s Zhejiang province, are about 7m tall and 10m wide each and will be used as event spaces.
The actor gave the antiques to the university because he wanted them “to be used and not just admired”, said SUTD’s assistant professor of architecture and sustainable design, Dr Yeo Kang Shua, who led the team on this project.
Mr Tai Lee Siang, a member of SUTD’s board of trustees, said: “Our students are going to create solutions for the East and the West, so it’s only right that they are brought up in an environment that prepares them for that.”
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.