A Systematic Engagement: Rural Renovation in Songjiagou, Shanxi/China New Rural Planning and Design
前言 | Foreword
Under the wave of rural revitalization and poverty alleviation, many immigrant villages have risen to the ground; almost all of them are built from the beginning or at least reinvented. However, no matter how they study and mimic the order of local rural area, the immigrant villages are still extremely difficult to respond to the texture of the traditional and natural villages. At the same time, the new and centralized resettlement of villagers who come from different old & traditional villages is a strategy to break up and reorganize the old behavioral order of their villagers’ production and life, which means, if the process of building the resettlement is improper, the new barriers and contradictions between new and old villages will be created. Therefore, we hope that we can carry out the work of immigration relocation by means of implantation and space exchange, and resolve the old and new barriers through the order restoration of public space and the distribution plan of scattered points, restoring the self-confidence of local culture.
宋家沟村全景图，the panorama of Songjiagou township
Songjiagou Township is located in the southeast of Kelan County. Songjiagou Village, where the township government is located, is a central market town with a backing mountain range and lying on the banks of the Weihe River. The village is close to the expressway and is an important entrance for the local Song Great Wall Ditch which is a tourism spot. The new and old villages are arranged in order from the east to the west. The villagers have obvious border consciousness and they are lacking of public space. In 2017, the Songjiagou Township was facing the important tasks of resettlement of villagers in surrounding natural villages, and it is also difficult to bear the important functions of tourism distribution and entrance nodes. In the case of a series of intertwined problems, the systematic planning and comprehensive intervention of the whole village are extremely urgent.
新旧村边界明显，the village has an obvious boundary between old and new constructions
策略介入 | Strategic intervention
Across the river, the exchanges and integration of the villagers on both sides are rare, the traditional and old village space becomes a “embarrassed” space, public activities and places are divided. Facing this kind of spatial language, the villagers’ spiritual confrontation and the potential resistance of newly relocated villagers, we not only have re-combed the space, the boundary between old and new but also has been implanted, softened and transitioned.
村庄总平面图，the master plan of Songjiagou Township
Along the river bank, the surrounding space is absorbed then reformed to the new open space for activities, at the same time, public buildings such as temples and baths are implanted, with the original strip-shaped and dividing boundary becoming an organic and multi-link belt.
河道变成隔阂两侧的带状边界，the river channel becomes a strip-shaped boundary on both sides as barrier
公共建筑和绿地，public buildings and green area
We hope that the relocated villagers can integrate into the local no matter spatially or in their own lives. In order to achieve the integration of villagers in more public areas, we finally suggested that the government should distribute the resettlement houses in fragments, and combine all strategies like building new houses, renovating houses, store houses and others, truly “dissolving” the resettlement houses into the old villages by in-depth residential research and re-planning the layout.
多种户型有机植入于旧村，a variety of units are organically implanted in the old village
公共节点设计 | The design of public nodes
村标现状，the iconic building
The Songjiagou Township is adjacent to the expressway and the provincial road. It is bland at the foot of the mountain, but a properly scaled iconic building can create a sense of space when people come in from the entry. Besides, it is a combination and an extract of the local history and the local Song Great Wall culture. The collection process of brick and tile materials allows the design of the iconic building naturally ooze from the interior of the village and respond to the entire territory.
村标实景位置图（建设前），the location of the iconic building （Before Construction）
村标场地平面图，the layout of the iconic building
村标夜间概览，ionic building exterior view by night
村标及其广场，the iconic building and square
村标结构及分析图，the structure and analysis of the iconic building
村标立面图， elevation of the iconic building
Using local materials to form the public space, not only give people a sense of engagement and intimacy, but also build a new relationship between people and activities. This is a simple and unified strategy, through this strategy, the function of the iconic building is expressed out more directly and more prominently.
村标成为了儿童的乐园，the iconic building became a playground for children
The memory recalled by the public space
人民公社 | People’s commune
It has been nearly 50 years since the people’s commune movement in 1960. This courtyard witnessed the historical moments of the village and the youth time of the old people. After the people’s commune was abandoned, it was used by the villagers. However, the villagers wish to give this courtyard back to the village committee. As a witness of the historical changes and the memory of the older generation in the village, we changed the courtyard to the village history museum and the village committee house.
人民公社改造前，People’s Commune before renovation
人民公社的历史沿革，the history of People’s Commune
In accordance with the wishes of the villagers, maintaining its original appearance, we retained its wooden structure, guaranteed its original dimensions, and reinforced it through modern construction techniques. In the process of demolishing the roof and wall, we invited the villagers to come to supervise and participate.
村民参与房体的拆除留下的木结构，the villagers participated in the demolition of the house and the wooden structure was left behind
正房改建分解， diagram of the main room structure
修复后的公社街景，the street view of People’s Commune after renovation
修复后的公社鸟瞰，bird eye view of People’s Commune
改造后的公社庭院，the courtyard after remodeled
正房内景，main room interior view
场所由封闭转为开放，互相关联的空间使公共场地变得流动，the space is changed from closed to open, so that the interconnected areas make the public space much mobile than ever
供销社 | Supply and marketing cooperative
After the transformation of the supply and marketing cooperatives, it was contracted by the villagers as an inn. At the same time, the new owner also promised to provide canteen services for the elderly in the village. The original courtyard was turned into a public stage, and the village was continuously energized.
被荒弃的供销社，the abandoned supply and marketing cooperative
院内的戏台，the theater stage in the courtyard
戏台平时坐满老人，平静地度过午后，people enjoying their afternoon at the theater stage
广场上游戏的孩子，children playing in the square
热闹的戏台与村民，villagers sitting around the stage
After more than a year of companionship in the field, there had been many interesting stories in the process of construction. The villagers care more about their village than we think. More often, the main problem becomes a confrontation between rationality and irrationality, or a confrontation between rejection and acceptance, the identity of the designer begins to change and change, and the building itself or the landing of it also undergoes subtle changes. Now, it seems that this kind of change had softened our plan. The design seemed to have a debate with the village, which made us understand the country more. Therefore, in the rural construction, acceptance and participation is the core, and the local feeling is also no longer only attached to form and style, how to complete it is more critical than design itself.
村民主动参与拆房（左），并拿出了自己设计的“施工图”（右）， the villagers took the initiative to participate in demolitions （left） and provide a “construction map” designed by their own （right）
村庄的巨大改变 | The great change of the village
旧村主街改造之前，the main street of the old village before renovation
旧村主街改造之后，the main street of the old village after renovation
主街改造之前，the main street before renovation
主街改造之后，the main street after renovation
村庄内部街景，internal street view of the village
傍晚的宋家沟，Songjiagou in the evening
结语 | Conclusion
西村标， iconic building at western end
When the design needs the whole village as an Intervention, the choice of traditional methods or new languages is no longer important. The former village can be described as a huge “building” built with warmth, tradition, neighborhood, order and border, and we tried to repair this huge and complex building. During this time, the first participation of the villagers, the story of space and the memory response are even more critical in village construction. Today’s Songjiagou has become a scenic spot where people are lingering, business and life blend together, new and old villagers, children, youth, and old people have started a new life in the bridgehead, square, and riverside.
西村标入口，entrance to the west iconic building
客运中心，the passenger center
Project leader: Peng Tao
Chief designer: Peng Zixin
Team: Bai Yanyan, Wang Junbao, Gao Lulu, Zhao Wenhua, Yan Jingye, Jia Haipeng、Chen Feifei、Yang Jianfei
Design unit: China Township Institute
Construction time: 2017.04-2017.07
Project Location: Songjiagou Village, Kelan County, Xinzhou City, Shanxi Province