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Redefining the Rural

Rural Urban Framework

The countryside of the future.


The Rural Urban Framework is a research and design collaborative between Joshua Bolchover and John Lin. They provide design services to charities and NGOs working in China. Their accolades include, but are not limited to, the WA Chinese Architecture Award and the Architectural Review's House Award 2012. Additionally, Redefining the Rural was selected for the Chinese Pavilion, titled "Building a Future Countryside", at the Biennale di Architettura 2018 in the China Pavilion; Redefining the Rural is part of a wider conversation on the future of China, as the urbanisation is transforming the countryside completely.

Redefining the Rural discusses the socio-economic and political processes that many rural villages in China undergo when transforming into urbanized communities. The collaborative recycle old buildings—they use raw materials from derelict rural buildings and create modern edifices using said materials. This process can be perceived metaphorically as a way to connect the memories and traditions of a past generation with those of a future one—a temporal compromise.

In 2005, the Chinese government announced its plan to urbanize half of the remaining regions, comprised of 700 million rural citizens, by 2030. Redefining the Rural presents viewers with a way to meticulously urbanize these communities while preserving cultural integrity. One would assume that an intervention such as this would incite fear of a possible disruption of culture and tradition. Whatever the case may be, the collaborative notes that the traditions and cultures of the rural community remain strong, and that many of its past inhabitors often come back to visit. Their work is important and indicates a continuous future transformation of these rural areas; their work isn't an absolute fix but a contribution to those of the future. The collaborative's work is strategically mapped to help these rural communities adapt to an ever-changing world, providing sustainable alternatives that integrate traditional technologies into a contemporary rural livelihood. In this sense, China needs to "redefine" its idea of countryside and preserve and convert—by the means of new and improved architecture—the "countryside of the past" into the "countryside of the future".

(Story by Amanda Mutai, The Architecture Player)

Authors icon Credits

Project location: Huanghe, China
Video maker: Chiara Oggioni
Translator: Liu Chang and Sun Yi

China 2018
Duration: 3'21"