Community Center and Migrant Workers School – Adaptive Reuse of Historic Hakka Village

Department: Architecture
Research Centre: Urban Ecologies Design Lab;
Active Dates: September-December 2017
Principal Investigator: Juan Du

Commune (Shangwei, Shenzhen)


Built in 1920, the Hakka Row House and attached Guard Tower located in Shenzhen ‘s Shangwei Village is an architectural reminder of the overlooked history of the territory prior to 1979’s establishment of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Utilizing the occasion of the 2017 Biennale (UABB), this project repairs and renovates the long-vacant building compound by adding exhibition and communal facilities to enable the building to serve the present-day diverse communities in Shangwei. Future planned programs include a night school for the migrant workers in the surrounding dormitories, a community space for the local villagers, as well as exhibition spaces for artists who have adopted Shangwei as a live and work site. The rammed earth walls, solid wood constructions of stairs, floors, and roofs as well as bricked chimneys and hearth, are repaired while new elements of lighting, wall and floor finishes, window and door treatments, and skylights are added. Each new element works with the existing structures to enhance the previous architectural qualities while increasing the practicality and comfort level for contemporary use. Existing door and window openings are updated with new layers of glass louvers and insect screens to promote natural ventilation. Selected tiles on the roof are replaced with glass tiles, updating a historic architectural practice, to form and shape larger skylights in selected spaces. During phase two, the fortress tower will be transformed into the shelves section of a community library, to promote continued learning of the migrant workers and villagers of Shanghwei. Enhancing the existing architectural heritage and adding new spatial elements, the renovation project of the Hakka House Compound aims to facilitate a new center of culture, arts and community services.

Enlarge Photo: Community Center and Migrant Workers School – Adaptive Reuse of Historic Hakka Village 1