Xiaoyouhe Valley is a narrow river valley located at the foothills of Wangwu Mountain in Jiyuan, China. The natural ecology and agricultural settlements are still visible in the valley. To promote local cultural tourism, the design of the Valley Retreat rethinks the role that tourist facilities play in such an environment by integrating natural topography, vernacular building types, and rammed earth construction techniques. The subsequent design transforms abandoned farmland into an ecological and cultural retreat. The design of the retreat considers existing vacant farmland and paddy field pattern. Taking four vacant farmhouses as the starting point, the renovation and addition develop a series of strategies to create courtyards in relationship with the landscape: enclosure, transformation, and extension. The inward-oriented courtyard is thus opened in dialogue with the surrounding landscape, extending a linear sequence of spaces along the river stream.
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