The phenomenal growth and development in the PRD over the past 40 years cannot be considered without the village. From pioneering villages that restructured their economies from agriculture to industry, to urban villages that facilitated migration through dense housing blocks, the village has been the basic building block of the urbanization process.
After this first wave of industrialized urbanization, what role will the village play in the future of the PRD? As Shenzhen continues to modernize, urban villages are replaced, and factories are being succeeded by third sector service economies. So, what about the villages far from the city, the ones where the flood of migrants once came from?
The money sent back home has fueled the construction of empty villages with many times the original building density, even as people continue to leave. These villages exemplify top-down and bottom-up processes. They are regulated and prompted by government subsidies but constrained to the collective boundary of construction land. This produces a super dense form of urban substance in the heart of the countryside. The urban village has migrated to the rice fields.
To tackle the potential future of the village we will address the modern village house. We consider the current model of housing construction to be prototypical. Villagers have adapted basic concrete frame and brick infill to produce a range of urban typologies within the village, from multi-family to apartment town houses. Following the lineage of invention from Le Corbusier’s Maison Domino to Aravena’s Elemental Housing model, RUF will adapt, modify and design a prototype for a village house. Seen as an evolution of the existing village house prototype found across Chinese villages, the aim is to demonstrate new ways of constructing and growing to accommodate potential shifts in the economy and population as needs change. Using speculative scenarios, the idea is to test how this prototype could alter the fabric of the village, whilst maintaining the spirit of the collective and the common good.