Page 1

zhou wo:

towards a new ruralism

Xia Lewei, Peggy @2013

prologue As the New Urbanism has gained prominence, other initiatives have surfaced recently claiming to embody its correlate—the New Ruralism. “New Ruralism is a framework for creating a bridge between Sustainable Agriculture and New Urbanism.” (Kraus 2006) Establishment of reconnection with land itself is the hope of new ruralists. This idea has been traced to “To-Morrow, A Peaceful Path to Real Reform” wrote by Ebenezer Howard in 1898, in the book, Howard promoted the idea – a merging of urban and rural environments into a third alternative called the Garden City – a combination of town and country life. Over century passed away, the idea of ruralism has changed with contexts.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to express my sincere thanks to my supervisor, Mr. Adam Bobbette, for providing his valuable advices, expertise, patience and enthusiasm in the field of landscape architecture, politics and geography throughout this thesis. Thanks also for helping me to refine the direction and saving me from confusion especially in the historical research stage and also discussions and inspiration on representation method. And the most important thing is that his believe on me and keeping push me ahead. I would also like to thank Ms. Dorothy Tang, Mr. Matthew Pryor and Mr. Scott Melbourne for the inspirations and valuable advises on how designing with the land, with the social relationship, and Ms. Ashley Scott Kelly, although we do not have discuss on thesis, but for his introducing me to geography field and open my eyes in previous research seminar. I would like to thank my helpers: Peng Rong, Wang Ze and Bian YuiJia for their hard work on making models and supports in the busiest days. Also Thanks to my classmates for two years’ supports. Especially to Viola Zhang, I learned a lot from her. Finally, I would like to thank my family.


prologue acknowlesdgements table of contents

00 HYPOTHESIS new ruralism Land property: collective ownership Politic: politically autonomy Economy: self-sufficient and consumption 01 ABSTRACT 02 STATEMENT from


03 04

03 NARRATIVES AND CASE STUDIES comprehensive presentation of historic rural transformation with modeling timeline


timelines models

modeling timeline


05 INVESTIGATE Rural transformation: Politics, Social structure and Ground Pre-reform In the early 19th century 1927-1930 Reform 1953 1958-1960

Post-reform 1985 1996 2008 2012

13 18

patriarchal system Liang Shu-Ming rural reconstruction the CCP’s land reform the Great Leap Forward the household-based land contract system craze of land enclosures movement San-jiu reconstruction in Guang Dong Province hollowing village

06 DESIGN INNOVATE new ruralism, from theory to design on ground




farming land distribution private housing and pubilc building transportation land recovery



This project is a hypothetical experiment to define future characteristics of living rural landscape as the practice of “New Ruralism� in 2030(As future population prediction in China, the population of China would slowly decrease from 2030). New ruralism in Zhou Wo would follow basic principles: 1. Land property: collective ownership 2. Politic: politically autonomy 3. Economy: self-sufficient and consumption





欧洲国家,积市而成;中国国家,积乡而成。 The establishment of Europe countries are based on accumulation of cites; the establishment of China is based on the rural. ——梁启超 Qi-Chao Liang

《饮冰室文萃 先秦政治思想史》08页,天津古籍出版社,2003年

In recent years rapid industrialization and urbanization in China has produced a unique phenomenon of ‘village-hollowing’ in rural, shaped by the dual-track structure of socio-economic development. The unused land both farming and housing in ‘hollowed villages’ presents for China in the context of concerns over urban development and food security. The rural landscape in China is no longer loosely transformed with the agrarian activities under Chinese communist party’s authoritarian political system. The uneasy crossroads between ‘traditional’ natural resource-based production and ‘new’ economies and cultural of aesthetic landscape ‘consumption’ turn out to be a total win for only instant success on economy side. The rural landscape has clearly changes from vernacular landscape to political landscape with a cult of the obvious hegemonic space form to now chaos under economic-lead development. Many dominant designers perceive the future of rural landscape as the potential urban back-land which as the Chinese communist party’s political and economic production—land enclosure movement—commercialization of land. In consequence, the same urbanist so called ‘best practices’ are repeated over and over again without much review the complex over all relationship of the rural and the urban, political , social structure and ground. This thesis project would explore new ruralism and focus on the landscape and architect mechanisms that will produce future living and productive landscape in rural in accordance with new ruralism instead of fashionable images that reflect crash industrialization and urbanization. The counterurbanization mechanism would build on the hypothesis of stable population from 2030, and represent three key points of new ruralism –collective ownership, politically autonomy and self-sufficient for basic food needs and consumption. In that way establishing intersections connect rural protests (rural society or lifestyle) with the protection of rural landscape or environment and creating a justice rural patterns and aesthetics. 03



During the nearly 30 years, dramatically urbanization is endless copied in whole China, especially around the coastal areas which has the favorable natural conditions and abundant natural resources and important location. Urban population, technology, politics and economy are undergoing rapid mutations in contemporary cities, and the crash development of urban area is at the expense of loss of rural area both land and farmers. Agricultural land in China is often easily wiped clean of all previous historic or cultural significance to make way for industrialization and urbanization. As the nation struggles to house the influx of urban migration, agrarian life is marginalized. The crash copy of western country cities development model (base on the development of industry) seems achieves the target of rapid of modernization of China. And food import to support the increasing of proportion of urban population, which weak the important basic function of the rural. From the numerous city planning and master plan, planner and architects make the rural jump headlong into “the usual city model” without the really understand the proper relationship of the urban and the rural.

This abnormal relationship

between the urban and the rural is sprawling in whole China, and which also make people to believe only the city is the represent of “the utopian” – “the good place”. Actually this abnormal relationship lead us into “no place”, farmer lose the land and are forced into city to make life but live in the poor conditions; left behind children and old men. The abandoned of farmland and environment pollutions. All these are enough to destroy our dream of nice city. The relationship of the urban and the rural are broken as well as the relationship of agriculture and industry.


Back to Chinese cultural history, traditional relationship of the urban and the rural is “mutual feed”. The unique features of China’s small-scale peasant economy are intensive and meticulous farming methods and the slack period of seasonal farming work which provide the development of cottage industry. And the market networks around the country help them to sale the products. But the traditional small-scale peasant economy could not to support such modern nation with such huge population and its modern national democracy. During the middle of 19 century (the late of Qing Dynasty), the forced openness of five harbor in China were the beginning of modern in China, which also force large population gather in coastal cities. And with it large food were begin to be imported to the cities. On the opposite area, the rural were depressed and caused the social instability. The rural development problem is increasingly serious until now. In 1930s, ruralismists try to use ruralism to save the nation. The theory through generous to develop as “New Ruralism” which are more specific to current situation and try to rebuild the “mutual feed” relationship between the urban and the rural. In this relationship, the urban and the rural should both live in the site and never change into the other. Conserve the diversity of rural culture, organisms, species and living ways; make the rural into nice place. The way to promote ruralism should both on community reconstructions and “mutual feed “with the city. Food network as medium may become one solution. To create a stable rural community and a safe food network would be important in ruralism.


12 years -- idle fertile farming land in Zhou

9 years -- idle fertile farming land in Dong Ji-

Wo, Dong Guan

ao,Dong Guan Newspaper Dong Guan Daily


Newspaper Dong Guan Daily



Comprehensive presentation of historic rural transformation with modeling timeline

Addressing the problem of chronology…means going back to the line, to understand its ubiquity, flexibility, and force.” ----Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton

‘The fact is that spatial form is the perceptual basis of our notion of time, that we literally cannot ‘tell time’ without the mediation of space.’ ----W.J.T. Mitchell


What does history look like? How do you draw time? (Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton, 2010). Timeline is one way to ensure the coherence from the historic transformation to future conceive both in research contents and representation. Narratives of historic rural transformation and also various reasons is the base built for the argument with regard to the later hypothesis and design proposal. In representations of time, lines appear virtually everywhere, in texts and images and devices (2010). Along timeline structure, main characters would come out from bunched occurrence, and through visually expression – curving, layering, crossing and branching – to descript the interaction effect, self-continuance, replacement, transformation among main characters contemporaneously and generationally. Even timeline could show the compositive transform in chronologically, the focus still can be distinguished for different intention. In this thesis project, the rural landscape is the central motivating force to extend the timeline with explaining “rural economy”, “rural social structure” as well as “rural politics”. The rural landscape would be spatial appearance as the result of comprehensive and complex forces, which could be a relatively directly experience for readers. Dealing with the spatial narratives and also invisible drivers, modeling timeline would effectively achieve the target. One challenge of this thesis project is modeling timeline with clear descript the relationship among main characters with text and image and keeping the representation sequential. Physical model usually are used as craft tests in design process and vividly present component to pitch an idea. Consideration on scales and material are important for combining with timeline in three- dimension would. Through right chooses of scale and material could clear express how story goes on and also the atmosphere of the story.

testing of different method to express timeline timeline, integation of different scale’s stories

during the entire process of thesis, I am looking for a perfect way to represent the complex historic transformation, I am testing from drawing to model, adjusting the scale, material, content...

timeline in axos

first review, timeline GENEALOGY 卢氏宗谱



Shanghai Ningbo

VILLAGE FORM The unique features of China’s small-scale peasant economy are intensive and meticulous farming methods and the slack period of seasonal farming work which provide the development of cottage industry. And the market networks around the country help them to sale the products.

Fuzhou Xiamen Guangzhou

五口通商,<<中、英南京条约>> the forced openness of five ports in China, 1842

western modern city and industry concept into China

Depression of the small-scale peasant economy and the rural

Late Qing Dynasty

1928 1931 1933

1948 1949 1950 1952 1955

Liang Shu-Ming (梁漱溟) Establishment of rural construction research institute in Zhou Ping , Shan Dong first published periodical <<construction in the rural>>

卢向银 Lu Xiang Yin Age: 85 Born in 1928

陈春香 Lu Da Wang Age: 80 Born in 1933

Rice Farmer


Rice Farmer

Establishment of the rural construction party

卢丽喜 Lu Da Wang Age: 61 Born in 1952

卢大旺 Lu Da Wang Age: 65 Born in 1948 Banana Peasants

卢富旺 Lu Da Wang Age: 61 Born in 1950

“乡治" 乡村建设派 LIVELIHOOD Liang Shu-Ming 梁漱溟 晏阳初 Yan Yang-Chu EDUCATION HEALTH CARE 黄炎培 Huang Yan-Pei AUTONOMY Zhang Yuan-Shan 章元善 Jiang Heng-Yuan 江恒源 Xu Shi-Lian 许士廉

卢丽喜 Lu Da Wang Age: 61 Born in 1952

Banana Peasants





the Rural

the Urban

Great Leap Forward

Disagreement on treatment the rural-urban relationship


1967 1970 1971

刘桃燕 Liu Tao Yan Age: 44 Born in 1971

卢炳桂 Lu Bing Gui Age: 46 Born in 1967 Banana Peasants

卢炳根 Lu Bing Gen Age: 43 Born in 1970 farmer Peasant-Worker

卢炳银 Lu Bing Yin Age: 44 Born in 1971

卢敏舒 Lu Min Shu Age: 42 Born in 1973



the Rural

the Urban



111.53ha paddy field Neo-Ruralism

1978 1980 1982 1984

1987 1990

“mutual feed” relationship with the urban

卢炳桂 Lu Bing Gui Age: 19 Born in 1993

Rural Restoration



75.16 ha banana cultivation

first brick factory was builded in ZHOU WO village

ecology, culture, production and democracy


34.52 ha banana cultivation

the household-based land contract system

Croad ways. Endless vehicle streams. A large number of high buildings. A great many businessmen and tourists. A prosperous scene of the new city, a future metropolis with rural scenery. This is Dong Guan.” (from Rich and Civilized Dongguan, Dongguan Yearbook, Dongguan, China: Dongguan Tourist Association, 1995.)

restoration of ecological village: oragnic, eco-friendly rural environemnt and control the expansion of reral area


first Central File No. 1 third Central File No. 1

Reform and Opening-up

autonomy community

Rural Governance


sixth Central File No. 1 Tax Exemption on Agriculture

2007 2008

Both brick factories in ZHOU WO were closed by the government for seriously environment polluation

San-Jiu Reconstruction 2012

Reconstruct old villages, old factories and old town into large site for future large scall projects.


acturally 33.34ha cultivate land are using

timeline in model timeline on the geography

2013 2011 2008 2007 2005 2002 1997

1987 1985 1983 1978

1961 1958


1956 1953 1951




Song Dynasty

Delta plain peat


BOUNDARY1927 S ilt-Muddy























CASE STUDY -- timeline ‘A Chronological, Historical and Biographical Chart’ (1807) by Stephen and Daniel Dod takes the form of a tree growing up. This (and also the image below) is a variation on a very influential graphic style of chronology devised in 1804 by the Austrian Friedrich Strass. His ‘Strom der Zeiten’ (Stream of Time) originates with a storm at the top [see the image below] and events through history ebb and flow, twist and fork to form an immense and flexible visual metaphor.

“EXPLANATION - This Chart exhibits a Chronological view of the most memorable events of all the principal nations of the world, from the earliest times, as far as they are recorded in history. The reader will observe - That it rises like a Tree, having for its root, the first Man from whom the different nations take their rise, like branches growing out of the parent stock. And each Branch continues to represent the nation whose name is inserted at the bottom, till a division takes place, which is represented by a corresponding division of the branch. the Chart is a biographical table of eminent men; and where a letter is added, it is the initial of the name of the country where they respectively flourished. The whole collated with care, from a variety of ancient and modern history.” [text from bottom of print]


CASE STUDY -- model

This project is a social manifesto, designed to challenge the accepted architecture of the suburb and then the metropolis reflecting changing attitude to life and our daily pattern of work, rest and play. Corresponding to the hypothesis, the architectural design proposal is including housing, public parks and playgrounds within the complex site contents – the Czech town of Zlín. The representation the complex design is investigated at different scales ranging from the master plan to a focus on the detail of the everyday life. The present model are well structured in the way of how to narrative the story. The whole model are interact with three parts: the nature base –a landscape topography that promotes actives and social interaction, which is forming the ‘landscape of movement’; the metropolitan part – with is distinct architectural configuration and big scale; and the suburban part, fragmentary at a glance and well organized in deed. The work like drawings shows an energetic relationship among these three parts. Regard with the site original contents which is full of mixed and vivid life styles, the work are using abandoned texture, material and colour to achieve the richness in details of the everyday.


CASE STUDY -- modeling timeline This art installation took the form of a map that would be the result of the globe being peeled off in the same way that one peel an apple in one go and then pulls out the peel so that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s straight. The apple peel extends as timeline from 2000 to 2046, which is marked with 431 labels, designating all kinds of natural disasters (typhoon, tsunami, earthquake, and flood) and mutations that will take place around the world. It is based on the book Future Century by Li Yu (published in 1993) containing predictions of the world in the next five centuries. This stretched-out globe makes all of the points of reference normally needed to read a map become obsolete. Using thin copper Map of the World, Huang Yong Ping, 2000-2007 Time, chance and fortune are recurrent themes in the work of the Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping. In his â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Carte du Mondeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (2000-2007), a dated chronology of future disasters unravels across the spiraling strip of an eviscerated globe.

wire as a guideline for each of the 431 labels which are stuck onto appointed location on the stretched-out globe are visually straightforward and affluent. They look like needles, arrows, or divination strips. These predictions of future calamities all have very precise times corresponding to the specific location; although the locations still remain rather vague and uncertain, however, and are thus outside our usual field of vision. Modeling time and space in one line as an installation is ingeniously and reasonably in its form and three dimensional express with text and image.




Dong Guan Urban Region

Zhou Wo village is located in the poorest town in Dong Guan. As we all know, Dong Guan is a typical fast growing industrial city located in the Pearl River Delta and known as a factory city. But in the history, Zhou Wo had a good reputation -- a land flowing with milk and honey, endowed with fertile land, temperate climate and abundant agricultural products. Using the nature geographic advantage, convenient water transportation was preference and also acted as catalytic to promote agricultural economy. But as pioneer city of 1978’s economy reform and opening policy, rough industry development dominate the economy station, leading to a sharp decrease of agricultural land for building factories. The coming soil and water pollution forced farmers to give up their own poor land in order to maintain the income. The fierce conflicts between increasing industry and weak agriculture can be seen in the countryside. And seriously now, large-scale long-time idle farmland could be easy founded in the country. The tragedy of loss “a land flowing with milk and honey” are put on the stage now.




Rural transformation: Politics, Social structure and Ground

Land property transformation


Zhou Wo village has experienced from vernacular landscape under small-scale peasant economy and family system, through political landscape under central planned economy and the CCPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all authority to nowadaysâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; economy-lead landscape under market economy and the CCPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all authority. As the transformation of social structure and rural lifeway, the former landscape feature still remained in later ones. All the uncertain and instability are telling the facts that transformation in rural landscape is a hybrid and an integrated complex contested process. Even the political landscape emerged sharply with inviolable and certain shape, the following transformation caused by change of rural politics and economy has reform transitory politic landscape. The full understand of the interaction of different drivers: land property, politics, economy and social structure, which has effect on rural population change, rural landscape (including the architecture morphology, village configurations, and ecological environment), and land use.

family hall owneership landlord ownership rich farmer ownership middle farmer ownership poor farmer ownership presant ownership state ownership state ownership -- household based contract system industrial land unused land after expropriation unused farmland


the lossing of farmland to construction

Pre-reform In the early 19th century Land Property: private ownership and clan field

family system

With the extending of feudalistic land ownership, 64 percent farming land in Zhou Wo is in the hand of landlord and rich farmers which only domain 9 percent of the total population. And 15.2 percent farming land belonged to middle farmers with population 33 percent portion, 20 percent of population is the poor farmer who only has 0.8 percent of farming land and the left 38 percent of population worked as tenant without any private farming land . The clan field in Zhou WO occupied 20 percent which in fact owned by landlord but reclaimed as common land(En 1997). Land property is closed related to the social structure and agricultural system. Looking from the large picture, in according to economy background of the day, growing crops were profitable and commercialize large scale planting region was popular investment spot. From natural condition in Zhou Wo, which was a typical case that the village was formed for agriculture, the expansive tidal land was reclaimed from Song Dynasty for growing rice, sugarcane and banana. But floods and waterlogging during the rainy season be most serious threaten to the village and barrier to agricultural development. As an integrated reclaim tidal land agricultural system, it is not only dealing the relationship with natural conditions, but also its corresponding social structure. From the construction of bund, reclaim of tidal land to the later tillage, management and defense, all of these activate need well organized collaborate power from communities. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the key reason that clan system prevail, and the establishment of gentryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s local controlling power which working as clan system. For the needs of tillage, tenants lived in the tidal land and be the base of the clan system. This agricultural system changed the landscape through its social structure -- clan system and the rural economy.


Traditional rural landscape presented in front of peo-

Ancestral hall, clan pedigree and clan field are three

ple was mainly formed by agricultural system and also

marks of modem family system. As to solidify its

rural united and self-defensive community. Rural pat-

self-governance in local, the symbolic public plaza

tern in Zhou Wo was easily recognizable: outside lay-

in front of the ancestral hall is distinct from sur-

er– water circulation; middle layer- agrarian area and

roundings. Regard with agricultural system, the sym-

center layer—dwelling area, as the first generation of

bolic public plaza loaded support for important family

immigrant (tenant) in the village were gathering work

religious rites (celebration for accomplishment of

needs. The tidy arrangement of dwelling buildings pre-

banking and irrigation, honor the Nong Shen-god of ag-

sented its well organized social structure. There is no

riculture, celebration for the traditional festivals

absolutely boundary between agrarian area and dwelling

and worships…). But even it has its special functions;

area, which is one distinct character in vernacular

the boundary of plaza is burry which mixed with sur-

landscape -- the fuzzy space which has multiformity of

rounding public space used as docks, roads, recreation

space function and implication of space sense. Rural

space, grain-sunning ground and private front court-

aesthesis in Zhou Wo village are mostly the unintended

yard. Rural landscape boundaries of private and public

results of agrarian pragmatism, resulting in a public

properties are very weakly expressed in the country-

rural landscape as a series of “weakly classified spac-

side, and the therefore intriguingly, rural.

es,” (Sibley 1988) “ which possess blurred boundaries, are associated with ‘ liberation and diversity’ and in which activities, objects and people mingle, allowing a wide range of encounters and greater self-governance and expressiveness” (Edensor 2005).



Pre-reform 1927-1930

Liang Shu-Ming rural reconstruction

Land Property: During the middle of 19 century (the late of Qing Dynasty), the forced openness of five harbor in China private owner- were the beginning of modern in China, which also forced large population gather in coastal cities. And ship and clan with it large food were needed for feeding the growing population in the city, the need for agriculturfield al development were greater. On the opposite area, the rural China were depressed and caused the social

instability for its complex precarious domestic and international political situation. Food were begin to import from neighboring countries. The rural development problem is increasingly serious. In 1920s, the first generation of ruralism Y.C. James Yen, Liang Shuming and other ruralismists tried to use rural reconstruction to revive the Chinese village by strengthening the village economy, culture, and political structure, including pioneering work in village health(C.C.Chen 1989). The core of the theory is “education, autonomy, health care and livehood”(吳相湘 1981),

intellectual wants education as efficient

way to improve the farmers’ quality, which acted as an ideal strategy to revive the village in long term. But rural reconstruction party defined themselves as reformists which most of the activities were mind and never touched the land property and social structure. In Zhou WO, Rural Reconstruction activists convinced the clan leader with the help of American Christian missionaries and got one piece land used as testing land to teaching local people new agricultural technology and also selection and cultivation of crop variety. Another big step was to use the ancestral hall and its forecourt as school to spread new ideas – democracy, autonomy, and health. As a result, in competition with the radical revolutionary approach to the village espoused by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, they presented as rendered politically irrelevant and forced to stop reconstruction movement. As to rural vernacular landscape, even it had added multiple functions; it still kept the main feature--blurry open space.

the country autonomy


local farmers

liang shu-ming rural reconstruction


livelihood education

health care


the country autonomy


local farmers

liang shu-ming rural reconstruction livelihood education

health care


the agricultural testing field


the agricultural testing field 22kg/y





local farmers

Reform 1953

the CCP’s land reform

Land Property: Compared to hundreds years’ slowly transformation of vernacular landscape, the sharply transition peasant owner- of political landscape in one decade from 1949 changed the surface of the rural area enormously. The transition was the result of the rural politics movement. In 1951, Zhou Wo was liberated ship by the CCP and the vast numbers of peasants got relatively equal piece of land from the CPP who helped them to scramble the land from the local feudal ruling class (landlord and rich farmer) with weapon and force the middle farmer to hand out the land ‘initiatively’ by persuasion. As a result, many peasant households held the deed for their piece of land for the first time ever. Peasant revived the depression agriculture land with highly passion and freedom after war. By abolishment of landownership by the landlord class and the introduction of peasant landownership, the CCP gained believe from peasants and firmly maintained strongholds in rural China to consolidate its political status, excepting these, various radical aspects had emergence with its dominant politic position. The nationwide implement of national macroeconomic development strategies were potent evidence. The rural landscape was vibrant as the thriving agrarian activities.

Due to the individually peasant landownership, the farming land were subdivided into small pieces following with the bunch of thin irrigation ditches and ridges. Every family could decide to grow anything according to own family preferences, and the mutual help between neighborhoods on building and sharing the water ponds and basic agricultural facilities. As the mark of clan system, the ancestral hall became the attack target during the class struggle. All the class struggle meetings were held in forecourt and farmers were receiving the Party’s education and training in the right space. The function of the ancestral hall had changed into grain barn. The building boundary line -- private houses’ boundary should exceed the ancestral hall to keep the symbolic meaning of that building—was broken, private housing were built crossing the boundary. The CPP gained the central authority in entire nation; a new element from the central authority that was introduced in 1952 was the provision that the development of agricultural production resulting from this would pave the way for the industrialization of China. The transitory emergence of apparent socialist justice landscape quickly disappeared for its shortage in implement of production owned by individual and low productivity.


Designer unknown (佚名) 1952, October Land reform in the whole nation is already basically accomplished - the great accomplishments of three years People’s Republic of China Quanguo tudi gaige yi jiben wancheng - Zhonghua renmin gongheguo sannianlaide weida chengjiu (全国土地改革 已基本完成-中华人民共和国三年来的伟大成就) Publisher: Huadong renmin meishu chubanshe (华东人民美 术出版社)



1958-1960 Land Property: state ownership

the Great Leap Forward In order to improve the productivity, farmers were voluntarily grouped as mutual help team which was adopted by the Party and promoted to the whole nation later. It was the way to reform the social structure – smash the clan system into individual units. And by this strategy the land that had been handed out to the peasants was slowly returned to the state. In a process of collectivization that started in later 1953, the farmers were first organized in so-called mutual help teams. These were gradually merged into lower agrarian cooperatives. During the Great Leap Forward from 1958-1960, these lower forms of cooperatives would be merged into huge People’s Communes. The social structure in Zhou Wo village had thoroughly changed into the People’s Communes – as the slogan of People’s Communes -- Put organizations on a military footing, put actions on a war footing, put life on a collective footing. All the residents in the village became the member of the People’s Communes. the transition of social structure, rural politics and economy, rural landscape has changed into obvious political landscape. In political landscape the importance of visibility are much stronger than in vernacular landscape. Visibility here means that it is distinct from its surroundings which are corresponded to its ruling and symbolic image(BrinckerhoffJackson 1984). The new building of the People’s Communes was replaced the testing field which was used in Liang Shuming’s rural reconstruction movement. The square building became the biggest architecture in the village with a huge courtyard inside and empty space outside around the building as to reinforce its political symbol and status -- an egalitarian political ideal were tried expression from the form of the building and the open space shaped by the building. As a political building in rural area, it still expressed its pragmatism with multiple functions of the building: local office of the CCP, office of the production team, tool room, health care center and mess hall; the enclosure courtyard were big enough to contain the whole population of the village and used as space for large public activates --the theatergoing in recreation, outdoor assembly hall in political education and grain-sunning ground for agrarian. Rural life was completely collectivized, including mess hall where free food was supplied. Due to the excessive zeal of local officials, who were whipped up in the general atmosphere of enthusiasm while at the same time afraid to be branded as laggards, production figures that were unrealistic to begin with, were fixed higher and higher.


The collectivized agricultural system required large irrigation and drainage system, so the Party used the People’s Communes to improve the water conservancy on the base of dike-pond system developed by clan system, comprehensively strengthen agricultural and rural infrastructure. The local government closely followed the central authority’s macroeconomic development strategy -- the provision that the development of agricultural production would pave the way for the industrialization of China. So 12ha land in Zhou Wo was converted into brick factory and backyard furnace which still were in charge of the production team. As the expansion of the brick factory, the top soil which contains most organics and nutrition were excavated for making bricks. Moreover, because everybody was involved in the battle to produce steel and bricks, labor power was lacking to bring in the harvests. If these amounts of food really could have been harvested, as the enthusiastic reports had promised, “communism was just around the corner”, as the general belief in the autumn of 1958 seemed to be. And another political landscape feature in these period was the everywhere slogans and poster on the wall. All these gaudy publicity were less and less painted from early 1959 for it became clear that things were running out of hand. As a result of the massive production drives in steel and agriculture, both the production and transport sectors had become severely dislocated. Despite the indications that the Great Leap had failed to reach its objectives, the movement continued to be upheld under Mao’s fully support. But in the period 1959-1961, China was struck by natural disasters, which became the catalyst to stop the movement. In this period, the most important thing which became a hint foreshadowing for later development was the complete transition of land property.



Post-Reform 1985

the household-based land contract system

Since the economy reform from 1978, the central authority has changed its agricultural policy inLand Property: state ownership to‘household responsibility system’, Zhou Wo village implemented this policy in 1985 and worked the

brick factory and paper factory as village enterprises (TVEs) to replace the production team. Due to the state land-ownership, the increasing non-agricultural land use for TVEs was much easy transformed under the centrally planned economy system. The second brick factory was established in 1985 with 11 ha and expanding with the increasing demands. Household responsibility system had reinforced family as agricultural production units in the social structure. Under that policy, rural economy begins to resurgence in Zhou Wo. Taking advantage of natural condition – soil for bananas to grow, large scale of banana cultivation run as family units has improve the local farmers life. All the public space in the village was back to the vernacular landscape with blurry space and boundary. With the increasing income from banana cultivation and TVEs, the farmers invested in new more spacious and more comfortable housing. In these period, without any professional planning and the tradition’s clan system limitation, the pattern of new housing presented looseness and disorder. The consideration of controlling the construction land was weak. So the narrow path from old days was never showed up in the new dwelling area.



Post-Reform 1996

craze of land enclosures movement

Land Property: Since the economy reform from 1978, china has experienced drastic changes in land use, especially state ownership through the loss of farmland to construction, driven primarily by urbanization and industrialization

(Lin and Ho, 2003; Liu et al., 2008; Long et al., 2007; Qu et al., 1995; Xie et al., 2005; Zhong et al., 2011). Rural politics and economy mastered by the local government had further and deep affect in the rural landscape in Zhou Wo. Even at the peak of agricultural golden age â&#x20AC;&#x201C; household responsibility large scale banana cultivation, local government still copied the popular land-based fiscal mode by land enclosure movement from other township regardless of the natural advantage and long-term plan. The Together the overall popular economy model in Dong Guan, local government believed that industrialization would be the way to wealth. Local government land-based fiscal mode

Under this mode, land enclosure movement is expanding in the village; 21ha farming land was expropriated from farmers and changed into industrial usage. And with the factories is the worker immigration who rent rooms from local resident. The hollowed houses in center are rent to this floating population. And for increase daily commodity needs, local resident built new housing along highways built in 1996. With the start of out-migration in the village, depopulation would be the factor for later hollowing village.

Dong Guan’s Urbanization in 15 years

2020 10,000,000


944,600 urban area Village, town, factories basic farming land farming land


Farmer? “floating population”? citizen?


Post-Reform 2008 Land Property: state ownership

San-jiu reconstruction in Guang Dong Province And national macroeconomic development strategies --rural reconstruction under the slogan of ‘Building a New Countryside’ has been an intensive campaign to social and infrastructural developments such as road construction, irrigation, electrification and investments in health and education provision. But these urbanization strategies still could solve the serious situation in the rural. And even worse, the unreasonable urbanization plan in village accelerated the ruin in agriculture. More and more land were occupied for infrastructural developments. The moving factories caused more environment problem in local which had negative effects on agriculture. Due to the water and soil pollution, yellowtop disease infected the entire banana cultivation in Zhou Wo. And farmers met their huge loss and forced to leave land. With the awareness of environment pollution, local government implemented Guang Dong’s governance’s San-Jiu Reconstruction policy to destroy the polluted resources – brick factories, paper factories and some factories which have excessive emissions, insufficient waste-treatment plants.



Post-Reform 2012 Land Property: state ownership

Hollowing Village Latest, the rural landscape in Zhou Wo is the unused farming land and also vacant house with door closed. Even it is labeled as rent house, still nobody wants to live. Together with the effects of wider economic restructuring – the economy depression has forced factories in Zhou Wo closed and moved into other countryside with cheap labor cost. But the almost 10 years land enclosure movement, the left problem in Zhou Wo is not just about the vacant factories and housing. Environment pollution, financial ruin of agriculture, the loss of local culture and the crush in social structure are all the results. The ‘Dual-track” policy of rural-urban development in China dictates that 57 percent adult leaving Zhou Wo into cities as present workers. Without equal treatment with permanent urban residents, social welfare entitlements and employment opportunities are not ensured in the cities for these present workers. This temporary, unofficial status in cities and the bifurcated social security system, together with the lack of security of urban employment in a fluctuating global economy(Wang 2010), forces peasant workers to retain vacant rural housing and idle rural land to give the opportunity of returning home. This’s the cocio-cultural factor for the unique phenomena --‘Hollowed villages’, which are communities in which depopulation and housing modernization has led to the abandonment of a significant number of properties, spread throughout the settlement (Liu et al., 2009, 2010a; Long et al., 2009a). Another reason is from the economic aspect,







Attitude to the rural landscape From resaerch to the historical rural transformation , reviving the rural or back to the old good days had already denied by the local farmersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; practical actions. The desire to living in rural is not only to improve the physical living environment, but also the social relationships, creating social equality based on the values of co-participation, joint responsibility and caring.. In

response to the post-reform. The starting point for this project is to consider alternative modality for rural area.




DESIGN INNOVATE The design would in necessary response to the dichotomy industrial rural society and landscape in the later are of the post-reform which, in the name of urbanization, forced people to separate from the land, divided working time from leisure time, production from consumption, housing from workplaces and so on, until communities were broken up and individuals isolated. As told in historical rural transformation in research part, the industrial rural landscape shaped by the ‘dual-track ‘structure of rural-urban development, its main feature --village-hollowing is a unique rural settlement morphology which proves space in rural became non-places, with losing its function, they were stripped of social bonds. “Designing” primarily means producing social dynamics linked to the idea of sustainability, a shared value on which to base integrative processes between individuals and between people and the environment. ---- Aldo Cibic



From New Ruralism New Ruralism is a response for those rural areas on the urban edge that are most at risk for the encroachment of suburbanization, environmental degradation, and industrialization(Kraus 2006). New Ruralism combines two current trends: smart growth (organizing cities around compact neighborhoods) and sustainable agriculture (cultivating food in a way that promotes environmental health and socio-economic equality) (Rick Wartzman 2007). New ruralism in Zhou Wo would follow basic principles: 

Land property: collective ownership

Politic: politically autonomy

Economy: self-sufficient and consumption



Spatial Strategy: Create a vernacular landscape by political mechanisms.

The future rural landscape should not be a battlefield in

In this project, the well-known theoretical duality

wishes. Instead, a future rural landscape ambition is

of the ‘vernacular landscape’ and the ‘political landscape’ (Jackson 1984) has been used but not at its original intention.

which agrarians are hindered, ecologists gain ground and new bourgeois inhabitants materialize their (sub) urban needed that fluently allocates the political and social demands.

Vernacular Landscape:

In this project, the achievement in spatial arrangement

Vernacular landscape stands out as the pragmatic

(self-sufficient farming land, traffic circulation, recre-

rural landscape --mixed all kinds of uses and spaces

ation open scape and housing) is to create a vernacular


landscape –multiply function space with blurry boundar-

Political Landscape:

ies—it is opposing political landscape are no longer in-

“Unlike the vernacular landscape, which mixed all

dustrial but agrarian.

kinds of uses and spaces together, the political landscape insists on spaces which are homogenous

Interaction with “New Ruralism” , using political mech-

and devoted to single purpose. It makes a distinc-

anism in landscape form to achieve politically autonomy.

tion between city and country, between forest and field, between public and private, between rich and poor, between work and play...” (BrinckerhoffJackson 1984)



The design proposal is made closely followed the research on rural transformation, keep asking questions (where, when and what parcels )to help making any proposal.

“What is rural?” “What do you consider the characteristic of being rural?” “Who owns the land and why it is important to make clear of the land ownership?” “What is the main challenge in this project?” “What’s the main character of New Ruralism?” “How the ideal concept—new ruralism shapes the design?”


Transtion of Land property: collective ownership As designer, I took up a position on the side of the local farmers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a bottom-up strategy. The proposal would start from the transition of land property, and focus on the rearrangement of land use, vegetation, tools, housing and accessibility by design mechanisms using landscape and architecture method. This innovation of new ruralism is on a minor tradition which would never be the dominant form of agricultural policy in China. The resulting arrangement of spaces, pathways and views is with tight social relationships between farming and communities. In this context, it becomes important to create hybrid places, both real and virtual, whose functions are reintegrated to create the conditions in which to interweave historical and new forms of community.


collective ownership

master plan






of country life, of the strong links between farming and outdoor pursuits and understanding the true values of living in the countryside.



in Zhou Wo are arranged to meet it need for â&#x20AC;&#x153;New Ruralsimâ&#x20AC;?.




PROGRAMMME Demolish of the old hollowed village and maintain the selected primary buildings as public buildings for different functions: The package factory is remained for food package. The abandoned factories inside the housing edge are reformed into mushroom cultivation, nursery, and agricultural staging station. Other factories located outside the housing edge are transformed into organic fertilizer station, pig farm station, energy station and agricultural technology center. Primary school is still functional. The building of Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Communes are transited into barn and the inside courtyard are used as grain-sunning ground and outdoor theater. The ancestral hall is maintained as culture heritage. The foreyard of the ancestral hall is used as free exchange market for community. Some resident houses are changed into water taxi station and picnic pavilion.




organic fertilizer station

barn theater

ancestral hall water taxi station

pig farm energy ststion

mushroom cultivation nursery

package station


Detail Design: Reuse of the unused public building into barn and theater

barn theater




Courtyard is divided by gird facility and can be flexible adjusted for different spatail demands.


Detail Design: Reuse of the adandoned factories into nursery and mushroom cultivation

mushroom cultivation nursery


TRANSPORTATION (REDESIGN THE HIGHWAY SYSTEM) Transportation circulation in the village has divided into three parts: highways located the outer ring of elevated housing which link to the outside, street path under the elevated housing and its branches link to the commercial farming land and the pedestrian and bike path inner of the street path which link to the self-sufficient farming land. Primary highway is 16 meter in width which is overdesign to its max usage. Due to the useless width, highway here had negative effect on agricultural which cause the fragment of farming land and its ecological environment. The integration of elevated housing with street can avoiding the fragment, keep the rural landscape consistent and reduces the land use for non-agrarian.


highways located the outer






link to the outside, street path under the elevated housing and its branches link to the commercial farming land


the pedestrian and bike path inner of the street path which link to the self-sufficient farming land

Street path under the elevated housing and its branches link to the commercial farming land


NEW FORMING OF HOUSING From the historical rural transformation, the dwelling experienced from regular gird pattern (Pai Shu pattern) in family system to less order pattern in periphery formed in 1910s to 1980s, to nowadays’ extend along the highways pattern. The hollowed central part is already abandoned by its owners. And highway acts as inducer to change more farming land turn into construction area. In response to these needs preferred by local farmers and avoiding the disorder spontaneous development, the new housing is formed as strong closed shape – edges of rectangle. Housing are elevated to leave the ground space as multiple functions space- street path for domestic small vehicles which only serviced inside the village , open space , parking area… On each edge of the housing rectangle, it equipped with outdoor sport stadium – swimming pool, badminton, fitness, playground…



Economy: self-sufficient and consumption

self-sufficient farming land Total area: around 40ha small scale parcel


consumption farming land Total area: around 107ha middle scale parcel

self-sufficient farming land

In according to the depopulation from 2030, the local population would stop grow. And based on Parma agricultural facility stat: 30heaters can produce enough food for 80% of the requirements of around 1000people, which means each resident300sqm to feed him/herself.


area of the self-sufficient farming land can ensure the local fresh food supply for 1310 people. Crops are freely chosen by each family according their own preference. With the diversity of productions, free food exchange among communities is encouraged. The arrangement of self-sufficient farming land is based on the principle of closer to the housing. For its small scale and low working load, family owned simple traditional farming tools are the first choice and the entire resident in Zhou Wo can participant in.



consumption farming land

In according to the depopulation from 2030, the local population would stop grow. And based on Parma agricultural facility stat: 30heaters can produce enough food for 80%of the requirements of around 1000people, which means each resident300sqm to feed him/herself.


area of the self-sufficient farming land can ensure the local fresh food supply for 1310 people. Crops are freely chosen by each family according their own preference. With the diversity of productions, free food exchange among communities is encouraged. The arrangement of self-sufficient farming land is based on the principle of closer to the housing. For its small scale and low working load, family owned simple traditional farming tools are the first choice and the entire resident in Zhou Wo can participant in.





Preserved Land integrated in the farming land

The reason to limit the scale of farming land is integration agriculture with areas for wildlife and habitat management.

The Pattern of small-scale self-sufficient farming land continues from original farming pattern. When dealing with the land

that is not marked for livestock or crops should be kept in

as natural a state as possible, native plants should largely planted to keep its ecological balance.

The recovery land transited from the primary polluted metals

processing factory into wetland for purification water and eco-

logical conservaztion. Rice are used as mainly recovery plants to absorb heavy metallic element from the soil.

Climate farmers who can get trained from the agricultural

staging station can work as expert to help improving the entire environment of the village.




BrinckerhoffJackson, J. (1984). discovering the vernacular landscape. C.C.Chen (1989). Medicine in Rural China : A Personal Account. Berkeley, University of California Press. Edensor, T. (2005). Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality. Oxford, Berg. En, Y. X. (1997). “Land system, clan and commercialization in the Pearl River Delta during Ming and Qing Dynasty 明清珠江三角 洲土地制度、宗族與商業化.” 中国文化研究所学报(6): 245-261. Kraus, S. (2006). “

A call for new ruralism.”

Moffat, D. (2006). “New Ruralism: Agriculture at the Metropolitan Edge, Places.” Rick Wartzman (2007). “Can the City Save the Farm?”. Sibley, D. (1988). “purification of space.” Society and Space 6: 409-421. Wang, M. (2010). “Impace of the global economic crisis on China’s migrant workers:a survey of 2700 in 2009.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 51: 218-235. 吳相湘 (1981). 晏陽初傳 : 為全球鄉村改造奮鬥六十年. 臺北, 時報文化事業公司.


COMMENTS Comments for first review: Questions and Suggestions from reviewers: (Q--Qusetions) 1. Consideration of multiple views to the development of the rural in china. Understand the needs of others before applying your design. Q (Vincci): (1) How can you sell your idea to this government? --- Government (2) Economist may have different view. You will need more information to convince others on your theory. --- Economist (3)Need to consider the amount of money the land owner can earn by renting the land to others. --- Local residence S (Surverna): (1) Need to consider the economy of sale, when large farm VS scattered small farms. (2) Need to define the value in real number 2. To rethink of the rural-urban relationship, consideration on putting the design attention/ initiative/strategies in rural or in city. Compare current the rural-urban development planning and the ideal planning proposed by the neo-ruralist. Q (Vincci): (1) Need to look into the overview of different beliefs S (Surverna): (1) Explain the economy of China â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rural VS Urbanâ&#x20AC;? (2) Is different type of urbanism required? (3) There are something in-between pink (villages, towns and factories) and dark red (urban area)? (4) Need to understand the process of rural urbanism, why things are happened/ developed in this way. (5) Need to look into different theories.


3. about the neo-ruralism and the site. S (Surverna): (1) Need to understand ‘Ruralism” which comes out from a different context. (2) Need to specialize the design. (3) Who is going to farm the land? (4) Need justification on the assumption that rural is more eco-friendly than urban. (5) Having considered the use of huge amount fresh water in rural are for farming, the farming may not be an eco-farming. Lu Xiaoxuan: (1) Development history of site, how factory play in the site and effect the form of the site and social life in the site. Rethink of the questions and suggestions 1. Unclear representation of the argument: both planes and presentation. Plane 2 is timeline which is the key part of the thesis to illustrate argument (cause and result of the existing village development, and the relationship of the rural-urban). Some questions and suggestions come from the unclear about the thesis argument. Ruralism and questions are not directly related. 2. Definition of utopia and neo-ruralism. And also show how the neo-ruralism ideas relate to land and people as it ideal proposed. Using case study to so how utopia idea influence physical form. How to choose case study, is it to choose practiced “ruralism” case or similar theory and practice. 3. Rethink the relationship of the rural-urban. Understand the cause of current relationship of the rural-urban and how it effects the development of the rural. And explain how it causes the social problems and rural& urban landscape. Visualize the development planning of neo-ruralism proposed the rural. Make clear comparison of concept, physical form (landscape) and social relationship.


Zhou wo towards a new ruralism  

Thesis Project, Master of Landscape Architecture, the University of Hong Kong

Zhou wo towards a new ruralism  

Thesis Project, Master of Landscape Architecture, the University of Hong Kong