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Rural cohousing community: transformation of Beizhaojiachang village

Cheng Kan , Yun Qin

Rural cohousing community: transformation of Beizhaojiachang village.

Rel. Pierre Alain Croset, Caterina Tiazzoldi. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città, 2014


After more than thirty years of Chinese economic reform, China has gradually changed from an agricultural country into a developed industrial country, accompanied with thè rapid and mass urbanization. From 1978 to 2012, China’s urbanization rate has increased from 17.9 percent to 52.6 percent. During this process, thè pre-existed notion of thè balanced rural and urban dual structure has been broken down.

The plan to move 400 million rural population into cities by 2030 and thè urgent demand of new areas for economic growth have produced a tension between agricultural land and urban land that is reaching a critical impasse. Under thè circumstances, thè government carne up with thè farmers' concentration living pian. The architectural typology, thè density and thè population levels that one would typically attribute to urban areas are stili legally defined as rural land. The 21st century relationship between thè core and thè periphery, thè center and thè suburbs has been superseded by a gradated blanket of urbanization. This is not sprawl in thè conventional understanding, or thè result of an exodus from urban centers to suburban belts that has occurred in Western cities. Rather, this process of urbanization is tied directly to its origins as rural land. In this sense, thè rural is an active agent in this evolving process of urban transformation.

From thè 21st century, thè government launched a serious of strategies to propel thè development in rural areas, such as building thè new socialist villages and “Chengzhenhua” (integrating thè planning

of rural and urban area). The intention of this government-directed reform is to upgrade thè general living conditions in rural areas and reducing thè gap between urban and rural area. At thè same time, their traditional living patterns will inevitably break down. The villages and thè farmers are facing opportunities, as well as challenges. Thirty years ago, thè majority of Chinese people were farmers. They lived in simple village houses and owned land collectively. Today, thè radical transformation brought about through China’s economic reforms has completely restructured this predominantly rural population in terms of their work, their leisure time, their homes, their incomes, their family structure and their aspirations.

The deconstruction and reconstruction in thè process of urban sprawl have been considered as a ‘successful’ mode to maintaining thè rapid economic growth. As a result, thè city has become thè model for development of rural villages. While thè Chinese intense urbanization has caused irreversible destruction to thè city’s rich architectural and urban past, replacing by thè sprawling, gridded identical skyscrapers- copy cats of many modern cities in thè West, and a major part of remaining traditional houses have become slums for thè underclass and thè senior. We have paid too much and have lost too much during thè transition of urbanization and modernization. We should also mention that thè Chinese architects have long been involved in protecting ancient traditional houses and attempting to integrate thè tradition and modernity, and a number of excellent projects have been built in thè last three decades, but this is far not enough. The architects remember thè past and anticipate thè future, nevertheless thè government cares only about thè benefits of present. In China, what is designed by architects only constitutes a tiny fraction of total construction output. If thè decide-makers don’t change thè policy, we will lose our history and culture both in thè city and in thè countryside.

Therefore, we take thè concentrated living for farmers, which is a relatively concrete measure of urbanization, as our cut-in point of research and design. What are thè necessity and background of Farmers’ concentration of living? What are thè advantages and disadvantages of this concentrated living? Throughout thè promotion of thè concentrated living in thè rural area, what will thè traditional living style have to face? What are thè traditional rural society?

First, we studied thè essence of traditional rural society and its representatives in thè architectural and planning scale. Then, we studied thè rationality and thè typologies of concentrated living pattern. Meanwhile, we try to reveal its impact on rural residents through a virtual case. Furthermore, we analyzed thè necessity of thè reconstruction of acquaintance society in a proper mode and thè concepts which are better to be followed. At last, Beizhaojiachang Village has been chosen as thè design site. Our objective is not to make a house combined with traditional features, but to make a rural community with sustainable rural living, and an authentic rural model that could be duplicated in similar rural areas.

Relators: Pierre Alain Croset, Caterina Tiazzoldi
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: G Geografia, Antropologia e Luoghi geografici > GD Estero
U Urbanistica > UJ Pianificazione rurale
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Costruzione Città
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/3508

1. Introduction

2. Traditional society and architecture

2.1 The essence of acquaintance society

2.2 The acquaintance society in thè traditional village

2.2.1 The bases for building acquaintance society in thè traditional village

2.2.2 Examples

2.3 Homestead and courtyard

2.3.1 Homestead

2.3.2 Courtyard

3. Concentrated living for farmers

3.1 Chronology of Main Government Policies Affecting Urbanization in China: 1970 - 2007

3.2 The Background of concentrated living for farmers

3.3 The motives of farmers’ concentrated living

3.3.1 Intensive use of rural land

3.3.2 The shift of agricultural production mode

3.3.3 The requirement of Chengzhenhua and urban construction

3.4 Typology of concentrated residence

3.4.1 Suburban concentrated residence

3.4.2 Small town concentrated residence

3.4.3 Key village concentrated residence 3.4.4 Examples of concentrated living for farmers

3.5 The impact of concentrated living for farmers on acquaintance society

3.6 The values of acquaintance society and its reconstruction

3.6.1 The values of acquaintance society

3.6.2 Semi-acquaintance society

3.6.3 New Caiyuan Village - Eco-village Movement in Hong Kong

4. The other village typologies

4.1 Super village - Huaxi Village

4.2 Foreign experience village - Nanzhanglou Village

5. Design

5.1 Background of Beizhaojiachang Village

5.2 Design concepts & Case Studies

5.2.1 Co-housing communities

5.2.2 User's involvement & Architects' involvment

5.2.3 Decentralization & Urbanization in-situ

5.2.4 Restoration & Re-use

5.2.5 Progressive transformation

5.3 Residential building design

5.4 Public building design Reference


Cohousing definition (American Heritage Dictionary of thè English Language: Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin 2000).

Kathryn McCamant, Charles R. Durrett, and Ellen Hertzman, Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves (Berkeley, Ca.: Ten Speed Press, 1994).

Joshua Bolchover, Christiane Lange, and John Lin Hsieh Ying-chun, Homecoming (Berlin: Gestalten, 2013).

Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, Rural Urban Framework (Basel: Birkhauser Verlag GmbH, 2014).

Fei et al., From thè Soil, thè Foundations of Chinese Society : A Translation of Fei Xiaotong's Xiangtu Zhongguo, With an lntroduction and Epilogue (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1992).

Li Fei and Zhong Zhangbao, “Study on thè transformation of village- acquaintance society,” Academic Journal ofZhongzhou 5 (2013).

Li Juan and Xu Wei, “Dynamic Planning Mode Reserach on thè Chinese Traditional Village in Transition,” NEW ARCHITECTURE (2008).

Guo Qinghua, “The Chinese Domestic Architectural Heating System (kang): Origins, Applications and Techniques Architectural History 45 (2002).

Fei Xiaotong, Peasant life in China: afìeld study of country life in thè Yangtze volley (Routledge & K. Paul, 1962).

Compiled by Sun Shiwen, “New Urban China,” Architectural Design 78 (2008).

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