Situated near the mountains around 60 kilometres from the city of Nanjing, Lixiang Village is notorious for its blueberry planting industry and distinctive historical culture. Thereupon, it has recently become an attractive tourist destination for sightseeing. Some of the village’s abandoned houses were renovated in 2016 by the Architectural Technology and Art studio design team. Accordingly, the town was endowed with a new alley that runs through its interior and is integrated with the houses. The alley offers tourist services and incorporates historical, cultural, and creative exhibitions and catering and sales.
In the course of the rural revitalization of Lixiang village public space, three issues were revealed. Firstly, the question of concentrated parking space for tourists. Secondly, the village has a compact building layout which is not advantageous for providing a considerable number of tourists with concentrated accommodation. Thirdly, taking into consideration the return of the villagers and the expanded number of tourists, the public space for daily activity has become progressively overcrowded. To tackle these issues, the ATA (Architectural Technology and Art studio) design team put together diverse design solutions and planning strategies in 2018, such as planning rural hostels to supply tourists with accommodation services. Additionally, pedestrian bridges were designed and the village’s entrance route was re-planned. Another solution consisted in building village activity centers to enhance the rural public life and touristic environment.
Lixiang village public space has an ancestral hall positioned on the north side of the village, disarticulated from the latter by a morsel of farmland. Rivers and canals encircle the southeast side of the yard that is commonly used as a gathering place for villagers to handle affairs and conversate. The courtyard has cedar and pine trees. The tourists’ parking lot is built across the canal from the village committee compound. The pedestrian bridge links together the village on the opposite bank, the field, and the parking lot with the renovated part and ancestral hall. It also sets up a new entrance public space surrounding the bridge.
The villagers have always used the village committee as Lixiang village public space daily. On that account, the two rows of tall metasequoias symbolize the astounding features that form the memory of the site.in this regard, it was found that the villagers feel more comfortable in the semi-outdoor and outdoor spaces. Places such as verandahs and pergola beside the village passage offer viewpoints and contact with nature. Thereby, the new alley guides visitors from the bridgehead to the small square located in front of the ancestral hall.
The discussion places are preserved and displayed to tourists as an exceptional attribute of Lixiang village public space by virtue of the design’s rational organization and judicious use of spaces and functions. Consequently, communication between tourists and the villagers is markedly increased. On top of that, the entrance of these villages is equipped with small public buildings with an array of spaces that people can use. For instance, there are tourist restrooms, public toilets, information desks, rural multi-functional activity halls, rural canteens, and open rest sheds.
The original three-story office building was renovated and expanded by the ATA design team to house the rural hostel. An L-shaped layout was favored instead of the original linear shape layout to form the guest room area. The hostel’s restaurant is also integrated with the rural canteen. Bordered by the pergola on the east side, the inner courtyard of Lixiang village public space holds on to the memory of the original place and becomes a small rural square where both the villagers and tourists can perform their daily activities. When the farm is busy, the inner courtyard can serve as a drying farm. The rural multi-function hall and pergola are open to all villagers and tourists. The design aspires that these spaces will allow the villagers’ activities and behaviors to take place concurrently while exhibiting the customs of the countryside to tourists.
Materials and Construction
The ATA design team selected the Beam String Structure for the pedestrian bridge. The large-span spatial structure consists of a rigid beam and a high-strength string attached by several Struts. The efficient structural system of Lixiang village public space employs pretension and form resistance to resist external loads. Heavy and large pedestrian bridges are unsuited for the surrounding rural environment, hence the choice of such a structure. Another motivation is to reduce the cross-sectional size of the winding rigid members. A side view of the downwardly curved cable and the bridge deck’s upwardly bulging steel box girder reveals a form that is analogous to a fish belly. By the same token, the inwardly retracted cable and the inwardly retracted bridge body arc produce – to a degree- spatial tension on the plane view. The nine butterfly-shaped abdominal rods which are gradually changing form an unparalleled spatial change effect. The railings are displayed in the form of glued bamboo pieces of various lengths, which makes a point of the lightness and ruralization of the pedestrian bridge.
Pertaining to the rural construction environment, some restrictive factors that affect the design strategies and principles in particular ways. In this respect, Lixiang village public space has a prominent water conservancy facility. The irrigation ditch is almost thirty meters wide and its purpose is to handle flood discharge. As a consequence, it is unauthorized to construct bridge piers in the river. The width must meet certain prerequisites to bear the passing of a concentrated flow of people. Other factors affect the structure of pedestrian bridges, among which are installation, transportation, and construction conditions.
Although it is inspired by rural construction, Lixiang village public space does not comply with the style of traditional local buildings. It utilizes modern technology to build and process. Moreover, it improves the quality of rural buildings and advances the refinement of rural construction technology. The design is a form of exploration of ways through which constructing public spaces in Chinese cities’ suburbs can be the amalgamation of modern rural construction, the preservation of the cultural characteristics of the countryside, and the contemporary thinking on rural construction.
- Gooood.cn. 2022. 李巷村村口公共空间再生，南京 / 东南大学建筑设计研究院有限公司 建筑技术与艺术（ATA 工作室. [online] Available at: https://www.gooood.cn/public-space-regeneration-at-the-entrance-of-lixiang-village-by-ata.htm
- ArchDaily. 2022. Lixiang Village Public Space / AESEU Architectural Technology and Art studio. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/963533/lixiang-village-public-space-aeseu-architectural-technology-and-art-studio