NEXT architects has revitalized a village in rural china, which had been left abandoned as a result of the country’s urbanization. like many other small communities in china, dafang, a village in jiangxi province, had generations of social and cultural value but risked becoming left even more isolated as more of the country’s population moves to major cities. to help resolve this problem, the local government asked NEXT to propose a new masterplan that would give the village a new lease of life.
all images courtesy of NEXT architects
NEXT, working alongside IVEM (dutch institute for heritage and marketing), smartland (landscape design), and total design (graphic design), sought to design a flexible and attractive environment for chinese and dutch artists to work, interact, and exhibit. the architecture and landscape of ‘holland dafang creative village’ has been conceived as an interactive community that is constantly able to re-invent itself. as a result, it is hoped that a new generation of visitors and inhabitants will be attracted and inspired.
as part of the art village, the architecture and landscape has been restored with new materials, creating a dialogue between the site’s contemporary and historic elements. for example: glass roof tiles have been used to restore the roofs of the old houses, while the ancient irrigation system has been modernized. ‘rural revitalization is one of china’s key future developments,’ says john van de water, partner NEXT architects beijing. ‘we believe this asks for the design of balance between old and new, living and visiting, history and future.’
meanwhile, two new structures form part of the plan. a watchtower, inspired by the ancient observation structures used for defense purposes, comprises two intertwining routes that embrace each other — loosely resembling a giant chinese ‘dragon column’. the tower provides views over the village and beyond, serving as a new landmark for the community. elsewhere, at the center of the plan, the design of a new public hall references the village’s century-old camphor tree, which has served as a gathering space for decades. the hall’s terracotta tiled façade allows birds to occupy the structure with their nests.
furthermore, programming, found within the site’s new museum, library, and artist studios, seeks to bring life and creativity to the village. artists living in the community are encouraged to add, change, and transform the village over time. for example, the floor of the public hall has been painted in a mondrian-like pattern by a chinese artist, while dutch artist herman lamers has installed an airplane within one of the site’s houses.
‘holland-dafang village opened last month [april 2020], attracting already thousands of visitors each day,’ says jiang xiaofei, partner NEXT architects beijing. ‘we hope it will have a positive lasting social and cultural impact and will provide a new development model for abandoned chinese villages.’ see other projects by NEXT architects on designboom here.
name: dafang creative village
type/program: rural regeneration
location: dafang, jiangxi province, china
client: jinxi government
size: 48,000 sqm / 516,668 sqf
status: complete, 2020
design: NEXT architects | team: john van de water, jiang xiaofei with gao shuang, kuang wenhui, shen xue, liu wenya, sun yi, lu xiaorui, zhu juncheng, zhang chi, ren wanting and yue haiting
in collaboration with: IVEM (dutch institute for heritage and marketing), smartland, total design and linda vlassenrood
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