Related Staff : Vincci MAK
Students: DAI Luoyi Diane; KWONG Wai Lam Rae; LU Sixiao Seashell; ZENG Siwei Sylvia
In September 2014, Rem Koolhaas published an article in the “Icon” Magazine, titled “Koolhaas in the country”. He writes: “The countryside is now the frontline of transformation. A world formerly dictated by the seasons and the organisation of agriculture is now a toxic mix of genetic experiment, science, industrial nostalgia, seasonal immigration, territorial buying sprees, massive subsidies, incidental inhabitation, tax incentives, investment, political turmoil, in other words more volatile than the most accelerated city.” The countryside is an amalgamation of tendencies that are outside our overview and outside our awareness. Our current obsession with only the city is highly irresponsible because you cannot understand the city without understanding the countryside. To the renowned Dutch architect, his interest in ruralism did not subside. In March 2018, Koolhaas was interviewed by the Financial Times, and he expressed again “[h]is new thing is ‘the rural’ – a radical reassessment of the relationship between the city and the countryside […]”. When looking at our own country, China always has a strong connection to the countryside. Historically as an agrarian country, managing the rural population well is always in the mind of the leaders and central government. Recent decades rural policies include the “building a new socialist countryside” movement initiated in 2006 and the currently implemented “Beautiful Village Policy”. In Hong Kong, incidents such as the relocation of Choi Yuen Village due to the just opened high speed rail alignment, and our government’s new town proposals in the countryside, spark revived interests in Hong Kong’s rural areas and their connections to the city, and an alternative lifestyle other than an urban one. It should not be ignored that there are also criticisms about how city-oriented mentalities are imposing values from the urban trajectory and romanticizing lifestyles in the countryside. How is the rural landscape being perceived by villagers and city-dwellers, and from who’s perspectives should rural development be driven, are part of the questions to explore in this thesis track. For example, the numerous Art Festivals curated in Japan’s rural villages in recent decade, aim to invite artists to live, work, and create, in the countryside. Such extended rural experience is to transform the often city-mindset to a perspective that speaks from the countryside. Of course, these art festivals also generate seasonal tourism to the villages, which also can be a debatable issue for discussion. While this thesis track is broadly exploring contemporary ruralism, it welcomes both written and design theses. Your study site can be selected from either the areas mentioned above, or anywhere in the World. Just like Koolhaas, his observation and interest to the rural started from a Swiss village. For your information, Koolhaas will be curating an exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 2019, titled “Countryside: Future of the World”. It is possibly the right timing to explore the countryside now.