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High-rise Feng Shui

Sunday, September 10, 2006
By: Joey Yap

In recent years, apartment and condominium living have become increasingly popular in Malaysia, If the number of questions I get about how to Feng Shui a condo unit or apartment is any evidence. Condos and apartments are a bit of a pet subject for me. I researched and studied Feng Shui under the tutelage of several renowned Hong Kong masters and Hong Kong, being a densely packed area, is chock full of condos and apartments. I cut my Feng Shui teeth on apartments and condos, and Hong Kong masters are literally masters when it comes to Feng Shui for apartments and condos. These apartments are notoriously small and there's often very little square footage to work with so the practitioners there have to be very innovative (but not inventive!) when applying Classical Feng Shui.

Dealing with Feng Shui for apartments, condos and high rise buildings is quite different from landed property. The broad principles of Feng Shui on Qi collection are of course the same, but the application is different. For example, one of the most frequent questions from the public, when it comes to apartments, is how do you determine the Facing of the building in order to obtain the Qi map of the property, using either Eight Mansions Feng Shui or Flying Stars Feng Shui?


Condo Challenges

First, let me assure readers who own or are living in apartments or condos that it is entirely possible to apply Feng Shui to apartments and condos. There are special techniques for handling small spaces, drawn from Xuan Kong and Xuan Kong Da Gua, which have a range of techniques for application in small-sized properties. However, there are also a lot of challenging limitations that apartments pose - you can't renovate extensively, there is less space in which to make changes such as using different rooms.

Hence, when it comes to apartments, screening and selection is extremely important. More so perhaps than say a landed property because your options when it comes to renovations and movement are extremely restricted. With houses, greater space in the rooms affords increased flexibility, even for something as simple as changing the bed direction. With apartments, you have a limited number of rooms to use, and a limited amount of space within those rooms to make adjustments. Landed properties usually have a small garden, which facilitates the use of Water features to help collect Qi. By contrast, in an apartment or condo, you have no control over where the swimming pool is located or where the landscaped ponds go.

Finally, it is a little bit harder to Feng Shui your own apartment, compared to say, trying a bit of Feng-Shui-It-Yourself on a house. It's harder to figure out the Facing Direction. A well-known mistake (caused by incorrect information) many people make is to fly the Flying Star chart based on the facing of the Unit if it is located above the 9th floor instead of the building's orientation. Now, if you think about it, that means that 100 units in the same block, under the same roof, can have different period Flying Star charts (even though the building shares the same roof!). Naturally, that is illogical and is not how the Flying Star chart for an apartment unit is derived.

In practice, the facing orientation of the entire block is used to derive the Flying Star chart. Now, this would mean that every unit in the apartment block has the SAME Flying Star chart, but it does not mean that the Feng Shui of every unit is the same. The Flying Star chart of each unit is influenced by the floor it is located on, the environmental factors outside the block, the unique location of each unit's main door, the residents and the forms within vicinity of the unit and inside.

Hence, when it comes to apartments and condos, you really do need to do a lot more checking and screening before buying because once you buy, your ability to make changes, or even work the Feng Shui yourself, is a little restricted, as compared to a house.

Selecting the Property

Before I start on the important Feng Shui considerations when it comes to apartments and condos, let me first talk about what is NOT important. The unit number is not important. The colour of the door, or the paint colour in the living room of the unit, is of no significance. Living on the 4th floor is not taboo - who knows, the apartment building that you are considering may well have fantastic Feng Shui on the 4th floor!

So, what's important and what should you be looking out for? I know I sound a bit like a broken record when I keep repeating myself on this point but the environment always comes first. Whenever you are contemplating purchasing or renting an apartment or condo, look at the area and check the forms. Forget about the apartment or condo unit for now - when you're shopping for an apartment or condo with good Feng Shui, you need to look at whether or not the apartment block or building is located in an area with good Qi. Find the Qi mouth of the area, assess the mountains and water in the macro area (refer to previous articles I've written) to get a snapshot of the Qi quality in the area.

Once you are sure it is a good environment with good forms, then you look into the building itself. Check the Xuan Kong Flying Star chart or BaZhai (Eight Mansions) chart of the building (this has been discussed in my previous articles). The last thing you should look at is the internal unit itself. If the building faces an unfavourable direction, and the Qi in the area is stagnant or negative, you can chose the unit with the best direction and it will still be all for nothing.

Picking the Unit

After the environment has passed muster, and the building's facing has been checked out, assuming all is well, how do you know which unit to select? First, you need to determine which is the best floor to buy or rent on. Now, the upper floors or the penthouse may be the most expensive or have the best view, but that does not mean they have the best Feng Shui. Of course, the penthouse unit usually comes with a little garden, which can double up as a Bright Hall to collect Qi so the penthouse floor has its benefits but again, that does not mean it has the best Feng Shui.

Different floors are assessed differently, based on the environmental features in the vicinity and its influence on that floor, the shape of the apartment building as a whole and the Qi relationship between the environment and the particular unit. Each floor also has an elemental value, drawn from the He Tu Five Elements. The suitability of the floor's elemental value has to be partnered with either the occupants personal Xuan Kong Gua or Na Yin.

After the best floor is determined, it's time to view the unit and check out the forms around and in the unit itself. Again, it's the forms that impact on the unit door that concern us. The door of the unit should not open in an area with negative forms and should be located in a good sector and open to a good direction. Avoid selecting a unit with a door that is opposite the staircase. Qi will leak out of your unit. In apartment and condo Feng Shui, it is preferred for the unit's door to open up where there is a spacious foyer and broad area so Qi can collect. Now, some units in apartments have doors that face a small garbage chute. This is not necessarily negative Feng Shui - your luck is not being tossed down the garbage bin so to speak.

While this is a bit of a challenge, not all apartment or condo units open on enclosed corridor. Some open up to the central courtyard for example. This is preferable to a unit door that opens up to a tight corridor. Also, when it comes to unit selection, a Classical Feng Shui practitioner will also consider personal birth data. Fine tuning can be administered by taking into consideration (1) the main door of the unit, (2) the bed location and (3) the stove location.

Another important aspect of assessing apartment and condo units is internal. Avoid choosing apartments or condos units with extremely odd shapes. This may look funky on the floor plan but results in very 'un-funky', unstable Qi and will give you a lot of problems with sharp corners. The unit's Main Balcony also needs to be examined. This needs to tap into the positive environmental features surrounding the apartment or condo block to be really good. If there are any electrical pylons in the area, you should not select a unit where the pylons are visible from the Main Balcony. Ideally, you want to see certain forms - a good table mountain and preferably, returning Water formation in the Southwest, Southeast, North and East directions, coming towards the property. Finally, the unit door and the location of the balcony door need to be placed according to classical Feng Shui formulas in Xuan Kong Da Gua, Ba Zhai and Fei Xing that are applicable to apartments and condos. In Xuan Kong Da Gua, a unit, regardless of its size, can be demarcated into 64 segments. Once the Qi reference is identified, a practitioner can facilitate the flow of Qi in certain key points within the unit, based on its structural limitations.

The challenge that achieving good Feng Shui poses, when it comes to apartments and condos, is one of the reasons why apartment and condo owners sometimes opt for New Age Feng Shui. It is human nature to hope for the best and certainly, it's easier to believe that the Qi of your apartment can be fixed with an item or an object than to accept that your unit has certain limitations when it comes to Feng Shui. No matter what people say, no one likes to be told that the place they are living in is 'so-so' or 'limited'. The conventional reaction is always "can't you just fix it to make it better?"

Unfortunately, Feng Shui is not a Band-Aid or plastic surgery ala Nip/Tuck. At the most minimal, Feng Shui requires either a directional or locational change, and improving a situation often requires altering the Qi path by moving things around. So in an extremely small apartment or condo unit, this can be quite challenging and requires a lot of commitment to change on the part of the owner. Ultimately, the best way to make Feng Shui work for you, when it comes to an apartment or condo, is to be judicious with your choice. Find a good area first, and select an apartment or condo in the area with favourable forms around it, and you've taken the first step towards achieving positive Feng Shui for your apartment or condo unit. In the coming weeks, I will discuss an example of how apartment Feng Shui is assessed and improved.

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