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April 2018 on Rethinking the rural

Dessin et Construction | Carmody Groarke | Dorte Mandrup | Invisible Studio | Plan:b arquitectos | Edwin Lutyens | Typology: Building for animals

As more and more people migrate to our world cities, this month the AR is rethinking the rural. In the opening keynote, Adam Sutherland argues that the illusion of the rural idyll is increasingly in tension with its hardworking, messy reality.

From the depopulating Japanese hillsides of Koshirakura, to the tropical Marshall Islands exposed to radiation following nuclear tests in the ’50s and now threatened by rising sea levels, rural landscapes across the world are under various urgent pressures.

An abandoned mine in the backwaters of Charleroi in Belgium has been prepared for a future urbanity that may never come to fruition, and Plan:b arquitectos’s new series of schools in the jungles of Colombia offer an environment for learning in some of the most isolated rural communities.

With authorities and clients seeking to turn undervalued landscapes into attractive destinations, nature and visitor centres have become popular commissions for architects, illustrated in this issue with a review of Dorte Mandrup’s thatched Wadden Sea visitor centre in Jutland.

Invisible Studio’s dwellings in the woods pose an alternative to fast-paced urban living, while Gillian Darley denounces the lack of social housing in the countryside. Leading us to reconsider where lies the divide between urban and rural worlds, Carmody Groarke’s Rectory Farm conceals an underground gravel quarry beneath a preserved slice of London’s green belt.

In the context of widespread rural reconstruction, Austin Williams argues that the Chinese countryside holds an important place in Chinese mythology, while Raymond Depardon captures the neglected French farmlands in his stunning photographs and film series.

And featured in this month’s Reputations, we revisit Edwin Lutyens’ eccentric and exquisite examples of English pastoralism, and Typology explores the strange and beautiful world of buildings for animals.

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