The exhibition takes human beings’ demands and desires about their livelihoods as the starting point. It especially aims at the residents’ simple wishes about their lost space: true appeals but also dreams that are buried deeply in their minds and never before have been woken up. Purpose of the exhibition is to reveal the essence of the issues through a series of spatial practices of renewals / regeneration, and to produce a deep reflection and an active response about the relationship between the architecture, as well as the general social practice induced by architecture, and the civil society of China.
The exhibition consists of three parts: the regeneration of urban central areas, the regeneration of countryside (rural areas), and the front line (new experimental areas). The exhibition can be schematically represented by a series of concentric circles, going from urban central areas to sub-central areas, from rural-urban integration areas to the city center: from the internal areas to the outside and vice versa, representing the idea of sharing: the sharing of knowledge, skills, emotions, thinking, wishes, cares and respect of our common past looking towards the future.
Courtyard House Plugin, award-winning, by People’s Architecture Office, is essentially a house within a house. It is a prefabricated building system for inserting modern living conditions into dilapidated courtyard houses. This alternative approach to urban renewal does not require tearing down existing structures or relocating residents. Currently, over a dozen Courtyard House Plugins have been built with more under construction. It is part of Dashilar Project, an initiative aimed at rejuvenating an historic district in the center of Beijing, and provide the simple and low cost solution to give local residents access to participate in the process of upgrading their city and preserving their heritage.
Char Hutong No.22, another project in Dashilar, by HyperSity, is seeking to incubate the possibility of architecture design based on urban design strategy in a mixed community with engagement of new crowfunding method to root its way through the future life-scape by comprehensive understanding across various scales of design.
Baitasi, another old city of Beijing, actually subject of research by Architecture School of Hong Kong University led by architect Tiantian XU, focus on critical but practical thinking and methodologies that deal with the urban scale aspects of a typical neighborhood in the Old City of Beijing. The studio critically engages with problems, challenges and issues concerning contemporary rehabilitation and renewal for traditional community, based on series of neighborhood research, analysis and architecture design. Same field of research on Baitasi by Jun FEI and Lulu LI is carried out through VR (virtual reality) to showcase the culture regeneration.
Xihe cereals and oils Museum and Villagers’ Activity Center, a rural project including a tiny museum, a villager activity center and a restaurant, is situated in Xihe Village, Xin County, Xinyang city, Henan province. The village has a beautiful environment, however the village suffers from poor economy and lack of vitality, most of residents still living here are left-behind elders, children, it is a typical left-behind village.The aim of the project of Wei HE is to repair the environment, motivate vitality and revive the economy of the village through good design. This project is more like a public event, it prompts the villagers to stand together for the village revitalization, at the same time, through collective labor and industrial recovery, and the village can also find itself again.
Angdong Village, Hunan Province, is an exemple of how rural healthcare in China also faces a multitude of challenges. Working closely with the charity and local government, Rural Urban Framework (RUF) office’s task was to develop a model rural health care building capable of supporting the many progressive reforms on rural hospital management and care giving. This includes providing basic necessities absent in current establishments, some as simple as waiting rooms. Additionally, seeing that most institutions in China, such as schools and hospitals, are walled off and managed as contained programs, RUF shows their interest and action in re-introducing the hospital as a publicly-friendly facility.
Sun Commune is another social experiment on natural construction with environmental design. Based on the reflection of urban construction, the group of architects headed by Haoru CHEN tried to make a difference in several aspects. With no outside intervention and by using only local labour and material to set up all those natural structures is thought to be the first consideration and concept. Harbouring the idea of the significations in rural construction, they activate the village by designing this project of eco-farm, and building up a new image and new economic system. This is a positive social experiment for the architect as well to be involved, and to involve all rural force into one shared objective.
Shaxi, an old village in Yunnan province, was a stopover on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Trail and declined later due to modern transportation developing. After the Shaxi Market Place nominated as one of the 100 most endangered sites by World Monument Watch, Shaxi Rehabilitation Project (SRP) was carried out. As an important part of SRP, the conservation of the stage and its two wings was based on restoration of the building and integrated with adaptive function, in order to reintroduce the energy to the place. The conservation project by Yinwu Huang carefully rebuilt a balanced system between heritage value, daily life and regional development, in spite of many limitations in materials, tools, craftsmanship, budget, function, schedule, etc. However, the conservation strategy is not limited to the built heritage itself. For instance, design has been applied to impact of visitors’ behaviors when the height limit of passage is unchangeable. With a focus on heritage value enhancement and sustainable rural development, creativity in this project is alternatively expressed through interdisciplinary perspective, detailed analysis and capacity for integration, rather than designing unique shape or applying advanced materials and technologies.
These projects represent the process that goes from the reconstruction of community relationships to the reshaping of city and rural images, in which architects play an important role. Highlighting the importance of building as a part of the research, and combing it with other scientific methods such as economics, social science, politics, behavioral psychology, transportation and environmental engineering, implies that the special features of the design could be decided in the course of the process itself. Meanwhile, the transition from a blueprint-led planning / design process to an action-led, detail-driven, communication oriented, and culture-based planning / design process is much more helpful in order to provide the renewal of the ways of social development.