Jury’s Views

Executive Jury Chairman:HUANG Jingtao

Q :On behalf of Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute, one of the hosting organizations and as the executive jury chairman of this competition, could you tell us why this competition was created?

A:As we all know, in recent years, rural construction movement is in full swing. There have been too many capital, developers, operators and young people flocking to the rural area in China. We (organizers) share the same view, which actually is a kind of concern. That many practitioners are taking action without thinking. I am always of the opinion that the beautiful traditional Chinese villages are the result of millenniums of interactions between farmers and nature.The way was very simple.During the interactions, various cultures were created, which became significant parts of Chinese culture.We consider these as genes.

Some villages have a long tradition, with terrific cultural and environmental features.However, aswe soon discovered, during the movement of rural construction these rural features are gradually disappearing. Some of the villages has been reduced toruins, dead already or changed beyond recognition, because their cultural genes were changed.This kind of transformation is not respectful of tradition.Hence we chose the Dongjingyu village in Ji County, a village that has been totally evacuated in the 1980s. Now that its relics still remain, it could stimulate discussion and reconsideration of rural construction in China. That’s where the competition comes in.

Q: This competition differs from traditional rural construction by intervening through art and design. What's your opinion on this approach and what about other rural construction models?

A:Those villages have been there for hundreds and thousands of years. What is the consequence of changing them, especially with the heavy investment, advanced technology and high level of intelligence that characterize our era?I think the predominant ways of rural development are unreliable. It is our hope to change the ethos, to promote villager’s life quality, which are key to this competition.No matter what intentions behind our changes and interventions, one thing is certain: things would happen in these rebuilt spaces and alter their original course of development.

For instance, in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Chinese villagers are still struggling to fulfill the most fundamental needs at the bottom of the pyramid.Such as basic physical needs for human survival and security. But the rural construction movement focuses on needs of higher levels such asself-actualization. They get things confused. I think many practitioners failed to sort out the priorities.Don’t attempt to provide in the rural area what are available in the cities, because rural life itself is the best tourist attraction you can offer. So, don’t change that much.

Q: Please give some suggestions to the participants.

A:We would like to make it sustainable and open.It’s the thinking that matters, not the practice.The idea is supposed to be sympathetic, full of good intentions and understandings of Chinese villages.It has the responsibility of inspiring the urban planners, designers and people in other fields.Participants could even find some reasonable alternatives. We hope it could be non-commercial and underscores its thought patterns, how the idea is generated.It is very uncommon that a traditional stone-built village is mothballed in such an impressive condition. I hope you (participants) could take the relics seriously and refrain from altering the original features, because they could not be easily restored.

I hope to see in this competition some landscape facilities and installations. I hope you could think hard about integrating design into nature without being too discordant.If I were a participant, I surely would design in this way. Because in the future,your design may probably be built in a chosen position in this village. Tourists will come to visit and appreciate it. Of course when next competition comes, it would have to be torn down.

Now from where I am standing, it is easy to find that the Dongjingyu (in the east) and Xijingyu (in the west) juxtaposes a pair of opposites: one is a relic, the other is a living village; one fuels the imagination while the other is full of concrete anthropological details. We designer stand to believe in “making things happen”. The first principle we made for this competition is to “allow things to happen”.It make us sad to find that what most designers have done is nothing more than adjustment of the physical structure. I hope that this village would be an organic village, and that participants would aspire to bring about changes of a higher level, the psychic level.It involves the change of the villagers’ state of mind, as well as compassion and love reflected in the reconstruction, which have been part of the competition requirement. Interventions which show no respect of the sitewill be dismissed.This sums up my understanding of the Dongjingyu competition. Try to open your mind and free yourself from the theoretical tenets of architecture, construction and landscaping, in order to make the design friendly and organic to the site. You need also to translate your idea into actions, so that be holders will feel enlightened.