The Rural as a Frontier of Expression in Contemporary Chinese Architecture: Projects and Strategies to Mitigate the Hollowing of Countryside Settlements
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Gerardo Semprebon
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Village hollowing can be seen as the other side of the coin of the binomial land taking and farmland shrinking. Its mitigation, control, and counterbalance are top priorities in the People’s Republic of China. The reasons span from social and cultural to economic and demographic to environmental aspects, and the cross-disciplinary dilemma that derives calls for original and innovative approaches to revitalize the countryside. In China, design and planning fields have been acknowledged to play a leading role in reshaping rural-urban relationships and the related controversial transition. This paper discusses how some Chinese architects engaged in rural projects explored new possibilities of design expression. Representatives of a multitude, they tested local materials and traditional techniques in innovative ways, renovating design processes and architectural languages. Their engagement has generated a variety of approaches showcasing surprising solutions characterized by challenging attitudes toward standards, dogmas, and canons. In this way, they stimulated a vivid debate repositioning the role of designing at a global level. The paper puts forward an interpretative key to observe how Chinese architects envision the future of ruralities.
- Ahlers, A. 2014, Rural Policy Implementation in Contemporary China, New Socialist Countryside, Routledge, New York.
- Aubert, C. 2008, Food Security and Consumption Patterns in China. The Grain Problem, «China Perspectives», vol. 74, n. 2, pp. 5-23.
- Bolchover, J. et al. (dds.). 2013, Homecoming: Contextualizing, Materializing and Practicing the Rural in China, Gestalten, Berlin.
- Bolchover, J. et al. 2016, Where is the Rural in an Urban World? «Architectural Design», vol. 86, pp. 6–13
- Brown, R. L. 1995, Who will feed China? Earthscan, London.
- Chen, R. et al. 2014, The impact of rural out-migration on land use transition in China: Past, present and trend, «Land Use Policy», vol. 40, pp. 101-110.
- Chen, X. et al. 2023. Rural Revitalization in China. A Socialist Road with Chinese Characteristics, Springer, Singapore.
- China Development Research Foundation. 2017, China’s rural areas. Building a moderately prosperous society, Routledge, London and New York.
- China Labour Bulletin. 2022, Migrant workers and their children, « China Labour Bulletin», < https://clb.org.hk/en/content/migrant-workers-and-their-children> (06/2023).
- Deng X. et al. Impact of urbanization on cultivated land changes in China, «Land Use Policy», vol. 45, pp. 1-7.
- Fei X. 1992, From the soil. The foundations of Chinese society, Berkeley, University of California Press.
- Feireiss Kristin and Commerell Hans-Jürgen (eds.) (2020) The Songyag Story. Architectural Acupuncture as Driver for Rural Revitalisation in China. Projects by Xu Tiantian, DnA_Beijing, Park Books, Zurich.
- Ge, D. 2019, Coupling analysis of greenhouse-led farmland transition and rural transformation development in China’s traditional farming area: A case of Qingzhou City, «Land Use Policy», vol. 86, pp. 113-125.
- Koolhaas R. 2020, Ignored realm, in AMO; R. Koolhaas, (eds.) Countryside, a Report, Taschen, Koln, pp. 2-3.
- Lee, C. C. M., (ed). 2015, Taiqian. The Countryside as a City, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge MA.
- Li, X. (ed.). 2018, Building a Future Countryside, The Image Publishing Group/ACC Art Books, New York, NY, USA.
- Lin, J. and Devabhaktuni, S. 2020, As found houses: experiments from self-builders in rural China, Applied research + design publishing.
- Liu Y., et al. 2010, The process and driving forces of rural hollowing in China under rapid urbanization, «Journal of Geographical Sciences», vol. 20 n.6, pp. 876-888.
- Liu, Y. et al. 2014, Key issues of land use in China and implications for policy making, «Land Use Policy», vol. 40, pp. 6–12.
- Li Y., et al. 2018, Land consolidation for rural sustainability in China: Practical reflections and policy implications, «Land Use Policy» vol. 74, pp. 137-141.
- Long H., et al. 2012a, Accelerated restructuring in rural China fueled by 'increasing vs. decreasing balance' land-use policy for dealing with hollowed villages, «Land Use Policy», vol. 29, pp. 11-22.
- Long H. et al. 2012b, The coupling characteristics and mechanism of farmland and rural housing land transition in China, «Journal of Geographical Sciences», vol. 22 n.3, pp. 548-562.
- Long, H. 2014, Land consolidation: An indispensable way of spatial restructuring in rural China, «Journal of Geographical Sciences», vol. 24, n. 2, pp. 211-225.
- Marrucci, G. 2017, Cemento rosso. Il secolo cinese, mattone dopo mattone, Mimesis, Milano-Udine.
- Rudofsky, B. 1964, Architecture without Architects, MOMA Press Release, New York.
- Qiang, W. et al. 2019, Societal development in rural China, Palgrave MacMillan, Singapore.
- Qin, H. and Liao, T. F. 2016, Labor out-migration and agricultural change in rural China: A systematic review and meta-analysis, «Journal of Rural Studies», vol. 47, pp. 533-541.
- Semprebon, G. 2022, Rural Futures. Towards an urban(ized) peasantry in the Chinese countryside, Lettera Ventidue, Siracusa.
- Su F. Tao R. and Wang H. 2013, State Fragmentation and Rights Contestation: Rural Land Development Rights in China, «China & World Economy», vol. 21 n.4, pp. 36-55.
- Sun H., Liu Y., Xu K. 2011, Hollow villages and rural restructuring in major rural regions of China: A case study of Yucheng City, Shandong Province, «Chinese Geographical Science», vol. 21 n.3, pp. 355-363.
- Tan M. et al. 2005, Urban land expansion and arable land loss in China — a case study of Beijing–Tianjin–Hebei region, «Land Use Policy», vol. 22, pp. 187–196.
- Yuan, P.F. and Wang, X. 2018 From Theory to Praxis: Digital Tools and the New Architectural Authorship, «Architectural Design», vol. n°88, pp. 94-101.
- Wang, J. et al. 2018, Spatial shifts in grain production increases in China and implications for food security, «Land Use Policy», vol. 74, pp. 204-213.
- Wei, H. 2021, Thinking and making architecture in rural China, Design media publishing, London.
- Whyte, M.K. 2010, One Country, Two Societies. Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.
- Williams, A. 2018, China's shift from urban development to rural reconstruction, « The Architectural Review», < https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/chinas-shift-from-urban-development-to-rural-reconstruction> (06/23).
- Zhang, X. 2018, Beautiful Villages. Rural Construction Practice in Contemporary China, Images Publishing, Victoria, Australia, 2018.
- Zhang X. et al. 2018, China’s Rural Development Road, Springer, Singapore.
- Zhao, Q. and Zhang Z. 2017, Does China's 'increasing versus decreasing balance' land-restructuring policy restructure rural life? Evidence from Dongfan Village, Shaanxi Province, «Land Use Policy», vol. 68, pp. 649-659.
- Zhu, X. 2017, Impact of the Household Registration System on Farmers’ Rural Housing Land Use Decisions in China, «Land», vol. 6 n. 4, pp. 1-12.
- Zwerger, K. 2019, Vernacular Architecture: A Term Denoting and Transporting Diverse Content, «Built Heritage», vol. 4, pp. 14-25.