March 12, 2018 - Aedes Architecture Forum - Xu Tiantian, DnA_Design and Architecture: Rural Moves - The Songyang Story
e-flux Architecture
March 12, 2018
March 12, 2018

Aedes Architecture Forum

Shimen Bridge, Shimen Village. Photo: Han Dan.

Xu Tiantian, DnA_Design and Architecture
Rural Moves - The Songyang Story
March 17–June 17, 2018

Opening: March 16, 6:30pm

Aedes Architecture Forum
Christinenstr. 18-19
10119 Berlin
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11am–6:30pm,
Sunday–Monday 1–5pm

Rethinking strategies for rural development is a global pressing challenge. To stimulate the international discussion Aedes Architecture Forum Berlin is presenting a remarkable example form rural China.

In the mountainous landscape of Songyang County, architect Xu Tiantian, in collaboration with the engaged provincial government and local people, developed thoughtful architectural acupunctures that generated a kind of new "rural self-confidence." Dynamic urbanization processes shape large parts of the world and China in particular. The young population migrates to the cities, whereas many elderly people and children remain in the rural areas. While in the German hinterland railway lines are shut down and the digital infrastructure is more than inadequate, the rural exodus in China is countered with new high-speed train lines and even the most remote mountain villages are being connected by broadband coverage. But also small-scale architecture creates positive future prospects for cultural, social and economic development. 

With Rural Moves—The Songyang Story, the Aedes Architecture Forum is opening a new chapter in the long and trusting relationship with the Chinese architecture scene for nearly two decades. In the continuation of this reciprocal exchange, Aedes and ANCB The Aedes Metropolitan Laboratory are now exploring China’s countryside. The revitalization of rural regions has been neglected for a long time not only in China, but also in Europe and worldwide, and has consequently given rise to big socioeconomic and political challenges.

Architecture plays a significant role in the development of large infrastructure programs and smaller-scale solutions. In China, it has been possible for some years to find remarkable approaches in innovative building processes that incorporate available resources as well as handcraft traditions that have frequently already been forgotten. Even though not all of the experiences gained can be applied directly to conditions in Europe, the examples that Aedes has identified in the region of Songyang provide fascinating impulses for the discussion regarding improving other rural living environments.

With round four hundred villages, the region extends over the valley along the Songyin River and surrounding mountain areas. The special landscape can be found in traditional Chinese literature and many paintings. Before this impressive backdrop and with this authentic culture, Songyang has already become a popular travel destination in the last three years—above all for residents of big Chinese cities. At the same time, a new, lively socioeconomic structure has developed in recent years as a result of various modernization measures.

In order to provide further incentives to "remain" as well as for city residents to return, the government has been working with the architect Xu Tiantian on further strategies for the overall development of Songyang. Besides good accessibility by means of motorways, a connection to the high-speed train network as well as a regional airport are currently being developed as well.

Xu Tiantian, the first woman running her own architecture studio in China, has already realized a wide range of architectural interventions on a micro-level in cooperation with the respective village communities, the municipal government, and local craftspeople. The architect found her inspiration for the designs of all of the buildings in the built history of Songyang, and supplemented it with additional elements and contemporary functions. This has consequently led to dynamic and organic growth in the rural region and offers the new generation of modern rural residents concrete perspectives.

The exhibition presents nine realized projects by models, plans, photographs and a film installation.

Xu Tiantian is contributing to the official program of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale: Freespace.

In 2019 the exhibition Rural Moves—The Songyang Story will be presented in an updated version at Architekturzentrum Wien (AzW) and Swiss Architecture Museum (S AM).

Symposium: Rural Moves – New Perspectives for Rural Areas in China and Germany
Friday, March 16, 2018, 4:30pm
Location: ANCB, Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin

An Aedes catalogue will be published.

For pressinformation contact: Mathias Schnell, ms [​at​]

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Rural Moves - The Songyang Story
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