The design of the Hengshan Township Village Center & Rural Park is a project that involves the exploration of technical integrated construction methods and assessment of the gradual renewal strategy for rural public space in China. It provides new possibilities for future rural public realm projects. Due to the location of a valley sandwiched by two mountains to the north and south, and the entrance of the village, the design lifted the ground floor to create the main entrance platform as a place for activities and gatherings. By arranging a museum for village history below, it enhances the centripetal of the Village Center. As the only entryway to the village, the Rural Park is located to the west of the Village Center. Its landscape design conforms closely to the natural environment, and utilizes locally sourced materials and traditional construction techniques to carry on the unique culture of Hengshan. The overall design echoes the characteristics of the Village Center, while establishing a new rural construction model that integrates local and natural.
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Blending Rural Lifestyle into the Nature: Village Center & Rural Park in Hengshan Township
Urban Design (Built)
YUAN Weijun, JI Wenjuan, XIAO Yisu, LI Siyuan, LI Xiang
Hengshan Township, Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, China
©HOU Bowen, JIANG Nan
Hengshan Township is located in the outer suburbs of Jiangning District, Nanjing. Although the surrounding mountain scenery is breathtaking, transportation is inconvenient and service facilities are lacking. The village’s economic condition has gradually declined in recent years and it is now one of the poorest villages in the area. A consistent problem in Hengshan has been the lack of public spaces – both for residents and tourists. One significant challenge was the site’s relatively low-lying status, sitting 1.8 meters below the main road which leads to the village’s south side. In addition, aspects of local culture and architecture in Hengshan are slowly but surely disappearing, replaced by the European “mansion” style of red brick and red tile with bay windows and column porches.
The veranda adjacent to the big steps is a translation of the open porches found at the entrance of many local farmhouses, while the single and double slopes and varying lengths of the eaves suggest open communication space and staggered platforms under the eaves. From inside to outside, the “humble” language formed by the local bamboo on the balustrades and ceiling, combined with the brick facade, crafts an interesting dialogue between old and new with the “delicate” white painted walls and glass curtain walls.
The design aims to integrate the gradual renewal strategy of rural public space and spur villagers to participate in public space via the Village Center. The main entrance square has become a new place for residents and tourists alike to have a rest, beat the heat, and chat with their neighbors. Meanwhile, the Rural Park has become a popular spot for children to play. The Village Center carries a composite function as the core of the township, not only to be an aesthetically pleasing part of the natural environment and village life, but also to awaken locals’ sense of identity to their home.