The Symbiotic Village is designed to reveal and activate the mundane, to depict the life ways in the Pearl River Delta and underscore the relationship between ecology and the built environment. In the Pearl River Delta, ecology is subservient to the city. Acknowledgement of this condition inspires the question “how can we live with water”? Through exploration of tactile and linguistic connections, gestures and narratives can make apparent these associations through spatial manifestations creating a new lens for viewing the landscape. The scaffold cube represents a sculptural, ephemeral, and gestural context within the Shekou Flour Factory. The “Village” becomes a gesture towards a typology that demonstrates people living symbiotically in the Delta prior to the 1980’s, when the relationship between residents and waterways suggested a larger regional interconnectedness. The project engages this interconnectedness between Shenzhen, an urbanized site defined by cultural and built boundaries, and the influence of the larger ecology of the Pearl River Delta.
The project explores symbiotic relationships within the urban typology of a water village. Village residents have had changing relationships with water over time, elucidating how water and cultures of the delta are intertwined. Farmers reprocess waste through the production of cash and subsistence crops as part of a larger ecological framework that includes upland planting (Mulberry Trees) producing silk worm larvae for silk production. Strategies of sampling and improvisation provide a framework for the “Village”. Sampling is defined as the process of lifting material from a particular site and reusing it in another to form new meaning. Improvisation is seen as the process of reshaping the old and familiar into something new and contemporary. A participant will move between 150 aquariums of live carp hanging from hand-spun silk formed by silk worms. Mulberry trees grow as a gesture toward nurturing the silk worm. The fish bowls become an expression of the river and the natural process of generating rich soil from fish waste, later to be integrated into crop-bearing fields —bringing the symbiotic relationship into a sculptural and immersive experience. The spectator can engage directly with the environment through these multidimensional devices.