Dongshan IslandClose

Client: Huazhang Real Estate
Program: Residential 26,000 sqm / Office 10,000 sqm / Agriculture 4,000 sqm / Hotel 6,000 sqm / Gallery 500 sqm
Design: 2018
Status: SD / Start Construction Fall 2019

The real contrast between urban and rural actually no longer exists in many places in China. High-rises are rapidly replacing the farms, based on the government’s ambition to improve the quality of life of the rural population. Factories have their production facilities in villages. In shops, farmers pay with their smartphones, order their food online and are continuously connected to family members in the city through WeChat – the ubiquitous Chinese app that combines WhatsApp, Facebook and ApplePay.

This is what urbanist Kai Vöckler calls ‘rurbanism’: the post-rural twilight zone situation in which much of the countryside finds itself globally. Vöckler described how a large discrepancy exists between the romantic image we have of the countryside (green, authentic, untouched) and the reality in which shopping centres, industrial halls and McDonalds dominate the rural image and lifestyle. Especially from the high-speed train this sloppy way of urbanization occurs. It is an image that also exists in Europe: ostensibly ‘green’ regions that are filled with logistic halls and other space-extensive functions.

Business in China nevertheless embraces the enormous opportunities that the countryside offers. In addition to the exploding tourism industry in China, more and more (tech) companies want to offer their employees a high-quality working environment in a green and affordable environment. In the US, some of these models already exist. Apple, Facebook and Google have campuses that are completely separate from urban life. Housing, work and leisure are no longer separated, but integrated.

The immense popularity of large cities in Western Europe seems to blur alternatives. Could we for some programs in Europe also let go of the focus on the inner cities and make specialized high density campuses in the rural areas, where new ways of working, living leisure are placed? A sustainable way of living without commuting, where you live together much more integrated.

Or is this ultimately the rebirth of the village?

Daan Roggeveen, Robert Chen with Bernie Wong, Mengyao Han, Emilio Wang, Pedro Martins, Kim Ka-Hyun

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