China has developed the national strategy of “Rural Vitalization” and architects have shifted their focus of research and practice from urban to rural areas in order to address recent industrial decline, shrinking population, loss of traditional culture and village degeneration that have happened in many of rural areas across the country. It is on this context that the project was designed as an attempt to contribute to the sustainable development in four areas of industries, communities, traditional process and architectural space in rural areas of north China.
The project was carried out in a 100-year-old small village in Weihai city, Shandong province of China. On the one hand, the village’s original layout and traditional scenario that bear significant cultural and tourism values are well-preserved. On the other hand, declining agriculture and relocated population have given rise to many non-residential houses and a lack of rural life. Moreover, absence of public spaces and tourism facilities is also an urgent priority to be addressed.
On the basis of overall planning, the project team chose four groups of buildings for architectural adaptation. The newly adapted buildings include Mica Bar, the 12-Bay Art School which is a cultural facility combining educational, exhibition and library functions, and two homestay cottages. The two public buildings and the two houses complement with each other and are combined with existing village resources to upgrade village tourism infrastructure. In addition, the new public spaces have established themselves as catalysts to revitalize the village and enhance communication among local residents.
The project adopted an adaptation principle that respects historical information contained in original buildings while making a breakthrough from traditional styles and forming a dramatic tension by striking a contrast between the new and the old. Each group of buildings was adapted by using different methods. Mica Bar emphasizes the contrast between the new building and its context and is considered the most outstanding and dramatic building in the village, in terms of either its exterior appearance or the relationship between viewing and being viewed.
The temporary kitchen structure and additional roof in the original building were removed. The design team carried out in-depth discussion on various building facades, placing their focus on the projecting balcony facing the riverfront. Four separate, showcase-shaped boxes were inserted in a grey space between the balcony and the overhanging eaves. The bracket beams in the original building were carefully retained and exposed to keep a tight grip on the newly-inserted boxes. Adapted building facades were purposely designed to echo a modernist classical style. The east and west facades use semi-permeable tiles that create interesting light and shadow effects at certain times. At the same time, the tile technique is also the medium between the original residence and the new building, bringing the two much closer with each other.
The interior design of the building continues to use the design elements of “white”, with terrazzo, hollow brick, white steel mesh and log as the main spatial materials, creating a plain and slightly coarse spatial atmosphere. White becomes the basis of the space, just like marginal areas, to create a variety of possibilities for the future. The “showcase” ground uses paint of different colors; bright colors under the sunlight are reflected on the white space to smartly present the dynamics of the bar.
The 12-Bay Art School retains features of the original building while integrating new spatial structures and elements, re-defining the relationship between history and modernity, architecture and site. The three originally isolated spaces were opened up and the new space was divided into three parts: the classroom, the exhibition area and the reading area. The roofs of the original building are retained and partially exposed, using new interior finishes to create a contrast between the old and the new, as well as light and shadow. The north wall of the reading area and its original windows were employed to design an integrated structure of the bookshelf and the seat, presenting a harmony among people, buildings and objects. The main entrance was arranged in the exhibition area. Black steel plates were used to construct a semi-open-air door head, which on the one hand indicates the entrance, and on the other hand further reminds visitors of two independent construction periods through the contrast between the new and the old. The vacant space behind the building was re-used to form a corresponding view between rocks and buildings and create an Oriental landscape of Zen Buddhism.
The Chin House and the Persimmon Garden are homestay cottages. As for the Chin House, while the original courtyard layout is retained, emphasis was placed on the adaptation of its interior spaces. The characteristic triangular timber trusses in the original building were exposed to increase space height and enhance comfort and appearance. Intentionally preserved removal traces, coarse loess-clay walls, grey cement floors as well as recycled old timbers are combined to form a vigorous space basis and create a leisurely cottage atmosphere.
The Persimmon Garden is intended to present an Oriental-style rustic environment. While trees in the center of the yard are retained, new landscape elements were added, such as a water purifying sink, Oriental stone piles and a pavilion. The exterior of the original building is completely retained and interior designs emphasizes comfort, contrast between the new and the old, and rusticity. Traditional building techniques were employed to design stone walls and floors and wooden structures with Oriental characteristics.
The four groups of buildings seem independent but associate with each other in form and function.
3andwich Design | He Wei studio was founded in 2013.Over the years, the studio has been engaged in Crossover study and Creative Practice in the fields of city, architecture, interior, products, curation, lighting and art.Studio is committed to creating a media era of the whole field of design services.The studio's work covers urban renewal, architecture and interior design, exhibition display, lighting art creation and other fields.The work emphasizes humanistic care, pays attention to the relevance with regional culture and the field, as well as the dialogue between history and contemporary.In 2017, the studio was selected by international authoritative design media ArchDaily as one of the top ten most eye-catching new design studio in China.In 2018, studio has won many international awards.B-garden was highly recommended in the Best small project group of the Blueprint Awards 2018.The project Shangping Village won the social equity award of WA China architecture award.