Leaving Traces, Living Traces

Honorable Mentioned in Q-Village Gangtou International Young Designer Competition 2020

Rural Heritage Time-Based Revitalization:
An Orchestrated Timeline of Inheritance

How do we retrace a rural culture timely within a built environment that is constantly decaying? In a world of consumption and obsolescence, buildings dilapidated rapidly and lost their original functionality. Despite their impermanence, these ruins or leftover buildings are still part of the heritage fabric, unfolding the immediate imageability of the unique history and locality. They are the traces of a place and its people, the living proof to native culture.

Inspired by the universal value of ‘inheritance’ embedded deep within Chinese tradition, we speculate an architectural intervention which regenerates new programmes from time to time, from generation to generation within the timeframe of buildings to decay. Instead of a stagnant structure, the architecture proposed is an evolving archetype combining the old and new, that adapts to the surrounding context through its lifetime.

Within the context of Gangtou Village, this proposal shall position itself as a protective yet adaptive shelter to local Lingnan culture. It embodies the authentic Lingnan humanistic heritage as progressive programmes, which drive the revival of socio-economic activities and communal revitalization. Meanwhile, the conjunctional architecture of old and new that transforms over time could evoke a time-based spatial experience akin to an archaeological odyssey. Conclusively, this proposal is a gesture devoted to leaving traces from the past relics, whilst tracing new spirit through a living architecture.

Gangtou Village: An Open-Air Museum of Lingnan Culture, Gangtou Village is one of the 11 ancient villages in Huadu district, which portray themselves as a testimony to the representativeness, diversity, particularity, artistry and value of Cantonese culture and Lingnan residential culture. Gangtou Village remains as one of the intact and well-preserved living fossils with a unique rural atmosphere like a living museum of Lingnan culture and imageability. Yet, it is also challenged by the issues of undeveloped industries, the urge of development and population shrinks, just like the other rural heritage in China.

Building Selection: Heritage Wok-Ear House (02), The traditional building 2, a wok-ear house is selected as the proposed building, has displayed distinct Lingnan architecture language and symbolizes the two ears of the traditional official hat, which means ‘outstanding’, and is also a symbol of a wealthy family. Therefore, the natural collapsing process in this proposal metaphors the fade away of this old hierarchy, recovered with a new reciprocal organization instead.

Lingnan Cultural Domain & Programmatic Shift, In the belief that culture is a constant flow of collective behaviour and identity, thus architecture shall be an embodiment of refuge to solidify a culture into a programmatic framework that is responsive towards its context and inhabitants. It works theoretically similar to Gangtou Village and Lingnan culture as the pivotal subject matter in this proposal too. Through intensive contextual analysis, we extracted the key Lingnan cultural domains as key architecture programmes that are compatible with different phases along the timeline of decaying. It is a programmatic shift, a lifecycle, and a complete ecosystem of architecture senescence.

Leaving Traces: The heritage building is left to age into relic gracefully, slowly turned into a story-telling folly revealing the collective image of a place. It is something intangible but palpable, mystical but perceptible. The natural process of decaying is an axiom, as if any person living within could grant a unique value to it; as if any event occurring within could leave a trace.

Living Traces: As the old structure leaves traces from phase to phase, the newly introduced architectonic grows in phases as well. It is analogous to a living mechanism, continually redefining its system corresponding to the traditional knowledge and emerging needs at the same time. This conjunction of old and new is not an end product, but a living process of tracing from past to present future.

“What remain of ruins is not total deisgn, but the clarity of thought, the naked skin and the spirit of things.” – Tadao Ando
With a contextual premise to protect and safeguard the local Lingnan Culture, and a bigger proposition to scrutinized the relationship between dilapidated building and the embodiment of cultural inheritance, this development intended to amalgamate the architecture essence of both past and present; the old and new. This proposal envisioned journey connecting these heritage artefacts to offer a time-based spatial experience which inherits the authenticity of it’s collective memories.

Rather than confining the proposal into a monolithic structure, the proposal is projected to a greater picture of Gangtou Village as a blueprint for inheritance- Envisioning a Time-Based Progression towards achieving Reciprocity. A master planning that enphasize on mutualism and trade mix development. A future townplanning was visualized in an timeframe of 25 years away from the initiation of the development, growing from a living museum into a trade mix enclave.

As a conclusive remark, a master planning blueprint injected into the proposal where this progressive journey will facilitate this evolution from the current Gangtou Living Museum into the future Lingnan Trade Mix Enclave. It foster the movement from a conservative and aging village into an inclusive and vibrant heritage which cultivates mixed-programmes inspired from the distinctive Lingnan culture. Meanwhile, maintaining the dilapidated building as relics of the past with the essence of new structure and visualizing an archaeological odyssey as heritage trail.

One thought on “Leaving Traces, Living Traces

  1. Nearly all of what you mention happens to be astonishingly precise and that makes me ponder the reason why I had not looked at this in this light before. Your article really did turn the light on for me as far as this specific topic goes. Nonetheless there is just one issue I am not too comfy with and whilst I make an effort to reconcile that with the actual core idea of the position, let me observe exactly what the rest of your subscribers have to say.Very well done.


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