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. 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’.
With Rural Moves—The Songyang Story, the Aedes Architecture Forum is opening a new chapter in the long and friendly relationship that it has been developing with China for nearly two decades as an internationally active cultural institution in Berlin. 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 programmes 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.
The exhibition Rural Moves—The Songyang Story is dedicated to observing the on-going collaboration between the Beijing architect Xu Tiantian (DnA_Design and Architecture) and the municipal government responsible for Songyang, located southwest of Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.