As China’s populations are moving in mass from rural dwellings to cities, villages have been suffering economically, socially and physically. The country’s architectural program is also shifting, as specific building types are being replaced by the large-scale, generic, concrete developments.
In response to these trends, architect John Lin has introduced an initiative in Shijia, a village near Xi’an. While houses here were traditionally made of mud bricks configured in a 10m-by-30m pattern, Lin created a home that fuses Chinese tradition with modern elements, ensuring residents can maintain a self-sufficient livelihood in a rural area.
‘The house becomes an example of self-reliance,’ Lin says, adding that It encourages villagers ‘to resist the increasing dependency on outside goods and services.’
Mud bricks combine with a concrete roof which adds insulation, offers a space for drying food and collects rainwater during wet seasons. The new structure also has earthquake-resistant elements, while an exterior ‘brick screen’ adds shade in summer.
Lin, a professor at The University of Hong Kong, originally invited students to participate in a workshop to design prototypes for the village. The project snowballed into the development of the house, which he says is the ‘result of an investigation into the modern village vernacular.’
The project was funded by the Luke Him Sau Charitable Trust.