Abandoned Chinese village transformed into art center
One effect of China's massive construction boom is the emptying of its villages as people from rural areas rush to the cities to find new opportunities. A recently-completed project aims to address this by giving an abandoned 900-year-old village a new lease of life as an art center.
The project is named Dafang Creative Village and was headed by NEXT Architects, in collaboration with IVEM, Smartland, Total Design, and numerous artists. The firm was commissioned by China's Jiangxi Province government to develop a renewal strategy for one of its 102 abandoned villages, Dafang, which had stood empty and unused for 10 years.
The work took two years to complete and involved the construction of new buildings and the restoration of dilapidated structures already on the site. For example, glass tiles have been used to patch up the roofs of the existing houses and an old irrigation system has been restored and upgraded. Artists are allowed to use the old buildings as they see fit and exhibit their work throughout the village, with the hope that it will attract visitors and help reinvigorate the area.
A new watchtower has also been built and offers views overlooking the surrounding area. NEXT Architects explains that Dafang once had a watchtower for defense but it's long gone. The new replacement features two intertwining routes and is likened to the "Wandering Tower," which is a Chinese poem that tells of people waiting for loved ones to return to their hometowns.
In the center of the village, a new public hall was constructed on the site of a courtyard building destroyed during China's Cultural Revolution. Its roof was inspired by a century-old tree nearby and, in a nice touch, its terracotta tiled facade provides places for birds to nest. Additionally, a new village museum, library, and artistic studios have also been completed.
The renewal of rural Chinese villages has been a growing focus of the Chinese government in recent years and has resulted in some interesting architecture, such as the Mountain House in Mist, Treewow Villa, and Shangwei Village Plugin Houses.
Source: NEXT Architects