A Non-Urban Apparatus: Winner of the Clifford Wong Housing Prize
As an endeavour to regain the agency, productivity and economic independence of the Chinese rural, the thesis proposes an alternative to the current trend in new development where farmer’s land ownership rights are overlooked and the centuries long connection to the ‘land’ is lost. An institutional framework and an architectural type is created that advocates a new living-working mode based on the acknowledgement that a contemporary rural village can no-longer solely depend on agriculture, and needs to accommodate for a variety of lifestyles and economic solutions.
A maximum concentration of construction into an array of band structures on all scale levels is proposed. This solution minimizes and compresses all the systems that make modern living comfortable vis-a-vis everything that usually approximates urban life. The resulting form is a rethink of the traditional courtyard type and, when multiplied, allows for the emergence of a village structure that is synonymous for visual and economical transparency, as well as for social life. It intensifies the spatial experience with nature and agriculture, acknowledging for the maximum presence of the ‘common’ landscape, protecting it from disappearance. The structure of the dwelling as both a communal, productive and spiritual archetype is at the core of this argument:
A reinterpretation of the existing courtyard house, understood trough the nature of its wall and its courtyard, becomes the interest and the definition of the residential type of the project. An architype of the wall is proposed as a space in which to restructure the project of domestic inhabitation. Opposed to the autonomous unit of the home, the linear archetype is instead a homogenous bar with a negotiable arrangement, neighbouring an open outdoor space, a linear courtyard, countering the paradigm of partition and subdivision within domestic space. The inhabited wall becomes a cabinet for the body, containing in its poches the spaces for revitalization and reproduction, thus freeing the space of the dwelling for living and working.
The necessary infrastructure for the support of living – bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, storage – are thus embedded within wall niches and alcoves in measured intervals. They are self-closing elements that cannot be perceived as rooms, but should rather be understood as more primitive and fundamental, supportive spaces for the common space. By compressing all of the functions of living into the wall, the resultant space, a linear interpretation of the traditional courtyard, is freed of any visual or programmatic subdivision, and is thus allowed to be occupied and reprogrammed as necessary. When populated with delicate glass pavilions that alternate with small exterior gardens, it allows for the emergence of a new social interior. Freed from the domestic infrastructural requirements, these spaces become clearings that frame and connect to the outdoor landscape, blurring the boarder between the interior and the exterior.