China’s economic transformation has triggered an unparalleled rate of construction that includes the creation of iconic architecture and the massive production of generic buildings. Consequently, vast swathes of rural fabric are being erased. As urbanization brings about a radical shift away from an essentially rural based society, the way people earn money, where they live, how they socialize, and the once simple relationship between land and its people are fundamentally changing.
Homecomingaddresses the issue of rural development in China today and the role the architect has to play in this shifting context. It questions the definition of “rural” and “urban” in Chinese society and the larger issue of architectural identity. The book discusses how the rural–and its embedded significance in China’s political history–is a site for furthering contemporary architectural discourse.
Homecomingbrings together historians, architects, theoreticians, curators, and writers with diverse backgrounds and experiences. They provide perspectives, narratives, examples, and prototypes to debate the role that the rural has to play in China’s future. In many respects, they form a critique against the overwhelming trends that saturate architecture and building in China today.
With contributions from Joshua Bolchover, Yung Ho Chang, Frank Dikötter, Juan Du, Huang ShengYuan, Hsieh Ying-chun, Hua Li, Liu Jiakun, John Lin, Meng Yan, Cole Roskam, Philip Tinari, Tong Ming, Robin Visser, Wang Weijen, Zhang Ke, and Zhu Tao.
In 2005 the Chinese government announced its plan to urbanize half of its rural population by 2030 – a staggering 350 million citizens. At the same time, Joshua Bolchover and John Lin set up Rural Urban Framework (RUF), a research and design collaborative based at the University of Hong Kong. Their work aims to refocus attention on the Chinese countryside rather than the city.
Just 30 years ago the majority of China was rural. Since then, rapid industrialization and economic growth has completely restructured the relationship between the rural and the urban and has led to a growing income gap, a decline in agricultural production, and a rural exodus. This book brings these issues to light by looking at various villages in different states of transformation. It presents a rural cross-section of a territory in flux, together with design approaches that challenge the generic construction taking place across vast swathes of the Chinese landscape.
RUF’s design projects offer alternate models and strategies for these rural villages to prioritize public space, community programs, and the environment. While the attention of the world is on the megalopolis in China, the authors argue that the evolution of the rural is critical to the country’s future.