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A School to Learn by School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hongdeng Village, Guangxi

Emerging Architecture Awards 2010: Highly Commended

This project provides essential new teaching space for residents of Hongdeng village, home of the Red Yao ethnic group of Guangxi Province in south-west China. In the past, village children were sent miles away from home to be educated in remote places that removed them from their cultural roots at a very young age. The new buildings have not only brought more coherence to the children’s daily routine, but have also provided employment for villagers who had previously worked in the city.

Learning from local customs, the architects identified three core preoccupations. Firstly, the school was hand-built using traditional technologies and locally sourced materials, promoting a commitment to sustainability and self-maintenance by the villagers. Secondly, the project sought inspiration from traditional architectural expression, while advancing efficiencies of timber frame techniques and modular space planning. Thirdly the project gave form to the principle of good stewardship, through the reuse of recycled materials and the exploitation of natural daylighting and ventilation.

A School to Learn by School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong

A School to Learn by School of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong

The crescent form is the most overt expression of these aspirations, the result of a year of research into local building technology, mapping of the village plan, and investigations into the villagers’ culture and daily routines. Through a series of workshops with the locals the architects configured the spaces in two crescent blocks, creating the central community courtyard, usefully summarising in their 1+1=3 equation of good design. While the building’s standalone form is somewhat conspicuous, raising concern among the jury about how it had changed the morphology of the village, on balance it was felt that enough of the place’s original charm had been successfully translated into the new structures and that the social contribution it would make was beyond any doubt.

Architect School of Architecture, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China
Project team Nicolas Yeung, Fuping Wong, Ricco Chan, Claire Fu, Crystal Kwan, Grace Kwong, Kay Li, Tracy Mok, Jilly Tang, Kin Wu, KarenKiang, Louis Yim
Design advisor Edward Ng
Structural Consultant Ivan Markov
Photographs Keith Chau

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