The immensity of China leads to the diversity of customs and climatic conditions. Each area has its own unique materials, construction methods, and climate adaptation measures. The regional characteristics of Chinese architecture are generally preserved in rural buildings. But we cannot overlook how contemporary technology may considerably improve the living and use conditions of rural buildings. What is the best way to create a balance between classic or inherent technology and new ones? How would the construction of rural architecture provide inspiration for the development of Chinese architectural cultural symbols?
2022 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Diébédo Francis Kéré reported the great solutions of Burkina Faso. Kéré insists to build comfortable buildings at a reasonable price; to make users happy and inspire them to dream of a better life. The pride of the local culture is reinforced by the use of local materials and traditional techniques. And then Kéré‘s works in other countries show cultural emblems of Burkina Faso, which are the consequence of his own cultural accumulation.
Discussing the direction of rural architecture design in China by case studies based on Carlyle's experience and achievements.
1. Integration with nature
The charm of the rural draws from its natural surroundings. The simplicity of rural areas derives from their coexistence with nature, as opposed to the city's widespread artifacts. Local materials have distinct natural capabilities, and using them decreases construction costs while bringing the power of dissipation to the building, allowing it to blend in with the natural surroundings.
Macha Village Center / Oneartharch architect
Macha Village locates in Huining County, Gansu Province. Macha Village locates in the dry ravine area on the loess plateau. The village is in extreme lack of water resources in the use of drinking water. The local dwellings mostly use earth as the primary material. The basic method of building architecture is using brick masonry, traditional rammed earth, cob, and wooden structure. The activity center locates on a setback hillside with a slop around 20 degrees. In terms of spatial arrangement, The triple house courtyard is enclosed by four different heights of earth houses and faces the eastern valley. These earth houses just as they grow from the local earth, they are perfectly blending into the local landscape.
Hengzhang Village is located in Dadongba Town, Songyang County. The village has a long history and preserves lots of cultural relics and historical sites. The old oil workshop at the village entrance was built over one hundred years ago. This traditional wooden structure & rammed-earth wall building sits on a sunken site next to a tree. The extension started by preserving the main building and the interior wooden machinery. The program also expanded out to a kitchen and a parking space on the side, and a leisure pavilion with a viewing platform by the creek. These new additions are traditional “Mortise and Tenon” wooden structures wrapped by masonry walls to create a continuous landscape with the terrace fields and the creek. The entire workshop area appears to have been carved out of the mountain rocks, and the original ecological landscape has been carefully protected.
2. Continuation of the rural fabric
The fabric of traditional villages is the result of long-term development and evolution, and they have great unity and coordination with the natural environment and topography. New or refurbished modern buildings should be placed in a way that respects and continues the original pattern and texture, as well as coordinating with the natural surroundings and existing structures. New buildings can bring new life into the rural, but they should not be allowed to damage local culture due to their incongruity.
TangBao Academy – Community and Civic Center / ARCPLUS · Free Studio
TangBao (Fort Tang) Academy – Community and Civic Center is situated in the village of Tangzhuang in the town Chenbao. The natural village near the project ground dates back hundreds of years, freely growing along with the crisscrossing marine network and watershed in rhythm with nature. In order to maintain the unique signs and fabric of the village, the design team condensed and then reconstituted the two material spaces, “village” and “paddies” within Tangbao village, into the life of the villagers. The original village layout, uniform and lackluster, is rejuvenated with a layered, connected, and interacting overall architectural layout; moreover, the texture and vein of the village shaped by the historical accumulation are protected and respected in this project, which inherits the local fabric of the city of Xinhua, Jiangsu province.
Librairie Avant-Garde, Chenjiapu Civilian Bookstore / AZL Architects
This project took place in China’s southeastern inland area which is dominated by hills. Unique cultural and geographical conditions have fostered the development of the distinct cliff settlement form as represented in the Chenjiapu, one of the hollowing-out villages, right where the project lies. The renovation project was conducted on the basis of an old site of the villagers’ Hall, It took the form of an 11 X 18mtwo-story space. The design has been carefully considered to almost completely inherit the external features of the building, except for the 3x3m glass box at the southwest corner. The new design has balanced the dramatic effects of the internal light and the external landscape in a restrained way. The new library, the old hall, and the even more archaic village community have altogether formed a continuously growing cultural spirit and the existence of the settlement.
3. Translation of traditional space
Wandering around the entrance of a village; engaging in chitchat under the big tree; gazing up at the sky encircled by a patio. These are the memories of the collective place belonging to villages. If a design can remodel traditional space by improving living conditions. The best method to inherit and continue is to share a unique memory with multiple generations. The new design will give villagers a sense of belonging by literally respecting their way of life.
Cultural Service Center and Local Workshops of Ruyi Village / WCY Regional Studio
The project is in Ruyi Village, Shuikou Town. The site is divided into three terraces along with the height difference, in order from west to east: cultural service center, atrium theater, and special workshop. The building also carries the villagers' customary activities such as local rituals and long drums dance. The spatial prototype of the atrium stage comes from the halls and patios of the old and new houses in the region. In addition to the daily life of the Yao people, the hall also performs special ceremonial functions. The hall, the patio, and the atrium theater stage construct the spatial sequence of "row gate - courtyard - patio - hall" by combining the gable, atrium, patio, and theater stage.
Rural Art Center in Qianfenxi Village / Atelier Sounding Architecture
The site is located at the west end of a bridge as the entrance of Qianfenxi Village, north of Fujian Province in China. Being close to the stream, while being hidden behind the terrain and houses along the road, this site becomes a certain junction in-between nature and man-made. The design strategy is the intervention of the "Lounge-house" system. Lounge-house is inspired by the local typology of lounge-bridge: in our view, lounge-bridge is not only an architectural heritage to protect but also a unique type of public space in rural areas. It is not only a bridge to pass through, but also a place for villagers to relax in the shadow in summer, do daily worship, and hold festival banquets and other public activities. Similarly, the lounge-house tries to introduce publicity into the art center.
4. Solution to climate
The building is warm in winter and cool in summer and can withstand extreme weather, which can ensure a comfortable environment. Natural ventilation is more helpful in lowering the cost of maintaining rural structures. Local materials and traditional constructions are the result of previous experience and learning from, refining, and upgrading existing buildings is one of the most accurate ways to tackle climate issues.
Red Brick Dwellings in Ezi Village / XAUAT
The project is located in the flat terrain of Ezi Village. The red-brick dwellings inherit the spatial system and slope roof form of the narrow hall and square houses of traditional local dwellings, rebuilding regional pride with traditional architectural culture. The narrow hall that runs north to south is conducive to forming air pressure ventilation; three sets of double-height spaces above the flat kitchen, narrow hall, and toilet form heat pressure ventilation, strengthen air circulation, and improve the indoor air quality of deep dwellings. The two-story attic (loft) design inherited from traditional local dwellings is storage and free space all year round, and a buffer in winter and summer, which insulates the main activity spaces such as bedrooms and living room on the first floor, etc.
The Reception of Jiufeng Village / Rural Culture D-R-C
Jiufeng Village is located on the North-Peak Mountain (BeiFeng) of Fuzhou, surrounded by picturesque hills and streams, known as "the rear garden" of this city. The core purpose of the entire renovation is to create a large-scale "reception". In order to reduce the cost and ease of construction, bamboo structures were preferred to create an additional exterior space. In order to increase the anti-pulling performance of the entire top, the direct pulling bamboo wall system was added on both sides. The bamboo room has a uniform and subtle shape. The windward side is low, and the leeward side is maximally pulled up, in response to the possible strong wind. As the old house is close to the mountain, flood discharge is a big problem. Therefore, we used rocks from the mountain feet to build several small reservoirs that store surface water when it is rainy, and also can be used for fish farming. A drainage ditch is excavated in case of heavy rain in mountainous areas.
5. Intervention of villagers
Rural architecture is a sample of how rural villagers might have a better quality of life. The role of the villagers in this process is crucial. Compared to communities of cities, villages have a higher sense of belonging and identity. Villagers' thoughts, opinions, and participation in new buildings are very valuable. Villagers will look forward to a better living in comfortable and beautiful buildings, and the inheritance and advancement of technology will make them proud of their local culture while continuing to develop a better home in the future. The goal of rural revitalization is never simply one house, but rather the continuation of the countryside's traditions and the start of a new chapter.
“Heart of Yongan” Community Center / TJAD
Yong'an Village is located in Yunlong County of Yunnan Province. During the design development of the community center, the tight budget restriction had placed an invisible constraint on the design concept generation process. The rammed earth building method is the most widely applied construction craftsmanship in the village. Besides, there was a small steel structure factory in the nearest town which happened to be one of the factories that emerged during the early construction industrialization. The strategy to keep the construction below budget is by making use of the existing local craftmanship and involving the villagers in the construction process as much as possible.
Village Lounge of Shangcun / SUP Atelier
Shangcun village is located in Jixi County, Anhui Province. This project renovated the old house of the Gao family into a space created by the six sets of bamboo canopy, providing a shared space hosting the activities of the village locals and the visitors. The bamboo canopy is constructed from Jixi's abundant Moso bamboo, which has been treated to resist rust and moths; and a modern bamboo and steel building method is employed to reinforce the bamboo structure's resilience and integrity. The entire construction process incorporated modern bamboo structures while utilizing the traditional construction experience and techniques of local craftsmen. The villagers were fully involved in the entire construction process, from site preparation to detail decoration, which sparked their enthusiasm and enabled them to contribute to the design and construction of the bamboo canopy, while also learning about modern and scientific construction techniques and reproducing traditional craftsmanship.