Origin and history:
The name of Hutong has a long history. According to experts, the word Hutong originated from the Mongolian language, pronounced "hottog" and meaning "well". In ancient times, people tended to gather and live around wells. So the original meaning of Hutong should be "a place where people gather together and live".
Siheyuan or Quadrangles are buildings with unique architectural features in Beijing's Hutongs.
Standard quadrangles were built facing the south, consisting of rooms facing the south, those facing the north and wing rooms on the east and west. And this is how siheyuan got its name.
The gate of a quadrangle is opened at the southeastern corner of the courtyard, and the rooms are connected with walls to form an enclosed compound.
Moreover, the architectural styles, scales and decorations of quadrangles were strictly confined by the social classes of the quadrangle owners, including memebers of the imperial family, officials of different ranks, common people, etc. So quadrangles can be divided into large, medium, and small ones in scale.