Village: The Latest Architecture and News
Travel seven hours by car in a Southwest direction from Shanghai and you will arrive in Songyang County. The name is unfamiliar to many Chinese people, and even more foreign to those living abroad. The county consists of about 400 villages, from Shicang to Damushan.
Here, undulating lush green terraces hug the sides of Songyin river valley, itself the one serpentine movement uniting the lands. Follow the river and you will see: here, a Brown Sugar Factory; there, a Bamboo Theatre; and on the other side, a stone Hakka Museum built recently but laid by methods so old, even the town masons had to learn these ways for the first time, as if they were modern methods, as if they were revolutionary.
And maybe they are. Songyang County, otherwise known as the “Last Hidden Land in Jiangnan,” may look like a traditional Chinese painting with craggy rock faces, rice fields and tea plantations, but it has also become a model example of rural renaissance. Beijing architect Xu Tiantian, of the firm DnA_Design and Architecture, has spent years surveying the villages of Songyang, talking to local County officials and residents, and coming up with what she calls “architectural acupunctures.”
How do you make school fun and sustainable in the age of technology? S.Misagh Architecture and Planning's design for an Iranian village school creates an edgy alternative to the antiquated classroom. The firm's three principle concepts for their Deh-e Now Village School — identity, knowledge, and the natural environment— allow students an array of opportunities for interactive engagement with their surroundings.
The countryside carries so much emotional weight and nostalgia through thousands of years of time. Currently, more than 100 villages disappear every day in China. On the other hand, the rise of city living standards and GDP require a more suitable tourist experience in the surviving villages. How can we combine the inheritance and preservation of villages with a countryside tourism business model? To provide a better ecosystem for lodge and inn, farm, organic agriculture and handmade crafts is the challenge that we are facing now!
Traces of human life lingering behind, forms carving their way through the land and sky, objects left in disuse and air that seems frozen in time -- whether morbid or sublime, abandoned buildings and settlements are an object of fascination and intrigue to architects and non-architects alike. As Shanghai-based photographer Jane Qing's photos of an abandoned village on Gouqi Island in China demonstrate, there is a rare kind of beauty to be found in the left-behind and the neglected.
See more photos after the break.