YUNNAN – Assistant professors at the university of Hong Kong, John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere have been investigating the possibilities of timber construction in remote parts of rural China. After the Pinch, a small community library in an earthquake-damaged village, they continued their research with the Sweep, a small viewing platform outside an elementary school in the remote reaches of China’s south western Yunnan province.

‘We have some good connections with local governments around the area. We selected this site, because it provided not only a public viewing deck for the villagers but also an area where children could be picked up by their parents,’ Lin comments. ‘Also this is a minority village and we appreciated the unique culture of its inhabitants. We wanted to participate in reinforcing that.’

The humble structure – comprised of 12 trusses cantilevering up to 4 m – was built over the course of 6 days with the help of 65 Hong Kong University students, as well as a number of local master craftsman and their apprentices. ‘Because the Sweep is spatially complex, the building process required plenty of discussion and many adjustments along the way. It also provided the local carpenters with an opportunity to build something that required interface with digital processes, which created a sense of pride in the final product,’ Lin explains.

Similarly to the Pinch before it, this project has also become popular with the local children, who use its sloped surface as a play area. ‘In a sense both projects are prototypical. Each involves wooden trusses arranged in a different manner: the Pinch was lateral, while the Sweep is circular,’ Lin concludes. The third project in this series is planned for autumn. Stay tuned…

Photos courtesy of John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere