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xixinan the rural return

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studio introduction

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on reverse migration

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xixinan

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village ecology

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rural transformations francis jacquier & marlène leroux

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architecture for alterity dario negueruala del castillo

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from data to design f. peter ortner

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maps

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fourteen architectural propositions for rural return

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parametric studies: iterative processes christina doumpioti

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media design lab

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sources

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How can we build for a new rural future in China? This year’s studio focused on the architectural implications of the Rural Return; a movement combining reverse migration of urbanized villagers back to their ancestral homes and the renewed interest of urban elite in rural history and lifestyle. This phenomenon is not a re-enactment of a long-gone era of Chinese village life, but a response to an unprecedented thirty years of Chinese development and urbanization. The studio took place in Xixinan, a historic village near the Huangshan Mountains in Anhui province. Filled with centuries-old vernacular architecture and surrounded by a productive agricultural landscape, Xixinan is positioned to be a center for rural and sustainable culture in China. The objective was the proposal of architectural interventions leading to the rehabilitation of the village while preserving its local cultural and natural features. Over the year we worked at both the urban and architectural scale. In the fall semester, we conducted research and site mapping related to the village ecology; the potential of village growth, its limits and thresholds, the micro-infrastructures along the canal, water usage and water needs, green spaces and local agriculture, flows of movement, and vernacular and new building typologies. The research continued by creating further generative diagrams of local activities related to local economy, education services, mobility, microclimate, recreation, natural landscape and agriculture.

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During the spring semester the focus shifted on architectural form, typology, and tectonics. Having as point of departure existing vernacular typologies, each project explored new architectural permutations rooted in historic precedents. Utilizing computational tools of form-generation and analysis, the students established rule-based feedback processes through which various design solutions were explored. Our aim has been to expand the scope and methodology of data-driven design, by decoding and recoding two distinct domains of knowledge: exteriority, which represents geographic conditions and anteriority which represents the embedded knowledge of local architectural typologies and systems. While the exteriority of geographic data is crucial to our research, we placed a primary emphasis on the generative potential of typology- what we have called ‘prototypologies’. The proto-typologies offer visions that empower the local community and function as acupunctural localized tactics rather than massive redevelopment projects. They do not necessitate high investment or space that would possibly alter the physiognomy of the rural setting. On the contrary, they offer small scale, punctual and low-cost alternatives, capable of bringing benefits to the local community by enhancing every day life while potentially enabling the augmentation of touristic attraction. The recommended programs include co-working spaces, communal laundry for activating canal life, urban spaces for social interaction, tower for water harvesting, communal kitchen and market, daycare centers for left-behind children, atelier for skill transfer, public baths for tourist attraction, bus station and mobility hub.

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on reverse migration

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China’s urbanization, which represents more than half its population, has been a long-term priority of its government and has created much of the prosperity the country has experienced in recent decades. China has more than 600 cities, many of which were small towns just a few decades ago, while almost 500 million rural Chinese people have moved into cities over the last 35 years seeking new economic opportunities (Roxburgh, 2017).The overall trend toward urbanization has been projected to continue till at least 2040, when 70 per cent of the population would be urban and China would have 15 mega-cities with populations averaging at 25 million inhabitants. In spite of this impressive urban migration, urbanization has serious downsides for the population, with rural migrants being deprived by healthcare, social services and education, once they have moved in the city, leading to social inequality. Moreover, China has a disproportionally large elderly population as a consequence of the one child policy (19792015), . Younger generations often move to bigger cities to support their families leaving the countryside mainly occupied by children and elderly and depleted of its most productive individuals.

on reverse migration

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<Reverse Migration> In recent years a new back-to-the-land movement has emerged in China, focused on bringing urban-dwellers back to rural areas and revitalizing villages while fostering sustainable lifestyles for their inhabitants. People return for different reasons, which vary from offering a healthier alternative to living in the city (better quality of food, air, water) to returning to their roots and taking care of their aging parents. The most explicit example has been taking place in the village of Bishan, located in Anhui Provinceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Yixian County, 60km to the east of Xixinan. The project of Bishan, led by Chinese artist Ou Ning, aims at reviving a more sustainable way of living based on the economic self-sufficiency and political autonomy of the village. Re-evaluation of agricultural lifestyle is not intended as a reactionary call for a return to the past, but as an attempt to connect an equitable interaction between cities and villages, between urban areas and rural ones. <Culture and Surroundings> The selected village of Xixinan, located in the Anhui Province, goes back 1,200 years and is well known as a hub where great artists, poets and calligraphers gathered (Yenching Academy in Xixinan, 2018). The village is exemplar of ancient classic Chinese Hui architecture, including the Grand Old Pavilion, a Ming dynasty ancient architectural mansion.

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introduction


The nearby Huangshan or Yellow Mountains is a popular attraction known for its unique granite peaks, the ancient pine trees and scenic views, which was named World Heritage site in 1990. Other notable historical sites within the region of Anhui are the ancient villages of Xidi and Hongcun near Huangshan, which reflect life during the Ming and Qing (13681911) dynasties and which were designated as World Heritage sites in 2000. Although Xixinan is less famous than the aforementioned villages, it has lately become a point of attraction for urban designers, architects and artists due to being the location of Turenscape Academy. Turenscape is an international institution of architecture, landscape and urbanism, with an aspiration to promote sustainability in different scales of implementation by running multi-disciplinary workshops and employing state-ofthe-art design tools and methods. <Landscape and water> The river running through Xixinan is the most prominent natural element of the village, contributing to the tranquility and beauty of the landscape while providing water for drinking and irrigation. The canals dispatching from the river, run parallel to it and form a route of approximate 5km, which is interrupted by numerous - more than 50 - access points as stepping platforms.

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The so-called Fengle River and its canals play an instrumental role in the villageâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life. The interaction with the river affects both daily life activities -cleaning dishes, laundry, food preparation- and longer-term seasonal and yearly cycles through rains and flooding. Over time, the summation of these rhythms and cycles centered on water, transform both the built and natural environment. <Climate> The province of Anhui lies in the monsoonal area of East China. Xixinan, which is located at the southern part, has a sub-tropical, humid monsoonal climate. It has distinctive seasons; warm spring, hot summer, cool fall and cold winter, with rain concentrating during the hot season.

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introduction


on reverse migration

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maps


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chinese landscape

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air pollution

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water use

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xixinan aerial view

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xixinan nowadays

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xixinan growth

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paths

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semi rural agricultural mixed paths

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village ecology

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xidi village, anhui province, china

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xixinan village (and environs)

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rural transformations

francis jacquier & marlène leroux

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francis jacquier & marlène leroux


The following text is an excerpt from an ongoing research project by Marlène Leroux and Francis Jacquier of Archiplein, Geneva. They trace the development of the Chinese countryside over the last two decades, examining the actors responsible, their motivations, and the complex results of their endeavors. The resulting analysis provides a higher-level understanding of the transformation of rural China as well as general reflections on the prospects for sustainable territorial development.

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In October 2005 the fifth plenary session of the 16th Central Committee, orchestrated by the new administration of Hu Jintao, adopted the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) which it called for â&#x20AC;&#x153;building a new socialist countryside.â&#x20AC;? Since this moment the future of the rural sphere has been at the heart of Chinese economic, political and environmental debate. Today, ten years later, it is possible to observe the social, spatial and territorial implications of this rural turn. Let us recall that the new socialist countryside program aims to reinforce the existing structure of medium to small towns and to plan new cities in rural areas. This regional, even national-scale planning has the ambition to create a better overall coordination, but it is difficult to reconcile global contingencies with local needs. Calculated with the logic of the five-year plans, the implementations are extremely limited in time and fixed in their objectives. In this sense, the territory being invested in is treated as a simple support, its characteristics and specificities only minimally influence the master plans, their normative frames, and the process of standardization.

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francis jacquier & marlène leroux


En octobre 2005, lors de la cinquième session plénière du XVIème Comité central, orchestré par la nouvelle administration, Hu Jintao-Wen adopte le 11ème plan quinquennal (2006-2010) au cours duquel il appelle à «l’édification de nouvelles campagnes socialistes (jianshe shehui zhuyi xin nongcun)». Dès lors, l’avenir du monde rural est au cœur des enjeux économiques, politiques et environnementaux nationaux. Aujourd’hui seulement, plus de dix ans après cette décision, il est possible d’en observer les implications sociales, spatiales et territoriales. Rappelons que le programme d’édification des nouvelles campagnes socialistes vise au renforcement de la structure existante de villes moyennes et petites ainsi que la planification de villes nouvelles en zones rurales. Cette planification à l’échelle régionale, voire nationale, ambitionne une meilleure coordination, mais peine à concilier les contingences globales et les besoins locaux. Calquées sur la logique des plans quinquennaux, les mesures sont extrêmement limitées dans le temps et figées dans leurs objectifs. En ce sens, le territoire investi est considéré comme un simple support, ses caractéristiques et spécificités s’épuisent à faire infléchir les schémas directeurs, leurs cadres normatifs et processus de standardisation.

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The county of Dengfeng, under the administration of Zhengzhou the capital of Henan province, illustrates our position. Situated in the economic zone of Central China, this changing rural territory suffers from an economy in difficulty, the result of a mining industry that is breaking up and an agricultural sector that is slowing down. In 2015 the master plan took form in a limited manner in the territory depending on financial opportunities. An impressive road network divided the territory into four, more than a million square meters of villages were destroyed, and new neighborhoods and infrastructure struggled to emerge. The resulting landscape gives the visitor the impression of a never-ending work zone. One travels on overly-large roads that have disemboweled villages without apparent reason. Mountains of gravel left after the destruction of housing dot the roadside. It is sometimes possible to follow zones of new housing for expropriated peasants. Distinguished by low-cost materials, these monotone bars of south-facing housing, seven stories on average, are placed at equal distance from one another. Contrary to the images presented by the real estate advertisements the exterior amenities and landscaping are non-existent leaving the red and dusty soil naked. This chaotic landscape is common in rural China: a physical manifestation of a commitment to transforming the rural sector into urban areas- currently hampered by economic and institutional constraints.

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francis jacquier & marlène leroux


Ici, le comté de Dengfeng, sous l’administration de Zhengzhou, capitale de la province du Henan, illustre notre propos. Situé dans la zone économique Centre de la Chine, ce territoire rural en mutation pâtit d’une économie en difficulté, héritage d’une industrie minière qui s’émiette et d’un secteur agricole ralenti. En 2015, le schéma directeur prend forme de manière éparse sur le territoire en fonction des opportunités financières. Une imposante trame routière quadrille le territoire, plus d’un million de mètres carrés de villages ont été détruits, tandis que les nouveaux quartiers et infrastructures peinent à émerger. Le paysage résultant laisse au visiteur une vague impression de chantier perpétuel. On y emprunte des routes trop larges, éventrant les villages sans raison apparente, les montagnes de gravats laissées par les milliers de logements détruits interpellent. Il est parfois possible de longer des zones de relogements de paysans expropriés. Affichant des matériaux bon marché, de monotones barres de logements héliocentrées, de sept étages en moyenne, sont disposées à égales distances les unes des autres ; contrairement aux représentations des promotions immobilières, les aménagements extérieurs sont encore laissés à l’abandon, laissant nue une terre rouge et poussiéreuse. Il s’agit pourtant d’un paysage chaotique récurrant sur le territoire rural chinois, témoignant d’un engagement certain dans un processus de mutation d’un secteur rural en zone urbaine, mais freiné par des contraintes économiques et institutionnelles.

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The transformations we have studied are as massive as they are fast. They produce multiple realities for the same territory. The urbanism offices of local governments and the national institutions are barely able to keep track of the totality of new constructions, new roads, neighborhoods destroyed. This is the reason that official maps are almost inevitably obsolete. Masterplans are sometimes so disconnected from the territory that is impossible to exactly locate them, or the process of redevelopment can already be so far along that it is impossible to compare with what came before. Together these observations suggest that only the analysis of the different timelines makes it possible to understand the rules of the transformation of the territory. Our attention has thus been principally directed toward the transitional period which comprises multiple perceptions of a single territory: what came before, what has happened, and how it was planned. The study of the transition evokes for a single territory the different identities of distinct time periods. Only a territorial diagnostic makes it possible to evaluate the impacts of convergences and conflicts between the creation ex nihilo of an urban structure and the persistence of local practices, that is urbanization in situ.

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francis jacquier & marlène leroux


Les transformations étudiées sont aussi massives que rapides, elles produisent plusieurs réalités pour un même territoire. En effet, les bureaux d’urbanisme des gouvernements locaux et instituts d’états s’essouflent à recenser l’ensemble des nouvelles constructions, nouvelles routes, quartiers détruits : les cartes de diagnostics officiels sont inévitablement obsolètes. Les plans directeurs sont parfois trop déconnectés du territoire pour que l’on puisse les situer précisément. Autre hypothèse, le processus d’aménagement pourrait être si développé que nous perdons toute possibilité de faire un rapprochement avec la situation précédente. L’ensemble de ces constats suggère que seule l’analyse de ces différentes temporalités permet de comprendre les règles de transformation du territoire. Ainsi, l’attention est principalement portée sur une période spécifique, soit le temps de la transition qui comprend plusieurs perceptions d’un même territoire : ce qu’il était avant la transition, ce qu’il est advenu et comment il avait été projeté. L’étude de la transition évoque pour un même territoire l’ensemble de ses identités à des temps distincts. Seul un diagnostic territorial permet d’évaluer les impacts des convergences et conflits entre la création ex nihilo d’une structure urbaine et la persistance d’une structure locale, nommé urbanisation in situ.

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This urbanization in situ is principally the result of initiatives of rural communities and local investors. These in situ operations are initiated in the flaws and lacunae of the reforms, at the interstices of regulations and in the lack of planning for rural areas. In opposition to the manifestations of ex nihilo masterplanning, in situ urbanization is in better proportion with the rural territory. However, it is no less harmful, as it is not properly regulated, and contributes to the destruction of agricultural territories, urban sprawl, and pollution of soil and waterways. In the end the urbanization of the Chinese countryside is a complex result of real estate speculation, national regulations and powerful local initiatives. We propose to theorize observed conditions as the basis for reflections on and evaluation of sustainability as a process of territorial mutation. It is important to state that the necessary modernization, aspired to by the principal protagonists of the phenomena of rural urbanization in China, is not being called into question here. By focusing on the study of the territory and its development we interrogate the integration of the program of building the new socialist countryside within the paradigm of sustainable development.

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Celle-ci est principalement le fait d’initiatives provenant de communautés rurales ou d’investisseurs locaux. Ces opérations in situ s’initient dans les failles des réformes, autant d’interstices pour l’illégalité des réglementations, particulièrement dans le manque de planification des zones rurales. En opposition aux manifestations ex nihilo des schémas directeurs, l’urbanisation in situ est en meilleure adéquation avec le territoire rural. Pourtant, elle n’est pas pour autant moins néfaste : peu adéquatement réglementée, elle participe également à la suppression des territoires agricoles, à l’étalement urbain et à la pollution des sols et des eaux. Finalement l’urbanisation de la campagne chinoise est le résultat croisé de spéculations immobilières, de réglementations nationales mais aussi d’initiatives locales puissantes. En somme, nous proposons de procéder à la théorisation des conditions de la réalité comme socle de réflexions principales pour l’évaluation de la durabilité d’un processus de mutations territoriales. Il est important de rappeler que la nécessaire modernisation à laquelle aspirent les principaux protagonistes du phénomène d’urbanisation des campagnes chinoises n’est en aucun cas remise en cause ici. En nous focalisant sur l’étude du territoire et de son aménagement, nous nous interrogeons sur l’intégration effective du programme de l’édification des nouvelles campagnes socialistes dans le paradigme du développement durable. L’actuel mécanisme de mutation des campagnes centré sur

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The transformation of the countryside, centered on the production of cities but amplified by phenomena of in situ urbanization, leads to significant wastage of the territory and its natural resources. The irreversibility of the actual phenomenon is most concerning, and the irremediable loss of the rural dimension has already reach critical levels. Today the major issue in the urbanization of the countryside, as much as the planning of new cities, is the deficit in planning the rural, as much for its development as for its preservation.

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francis jacquier & marlène leroux


la production de villes mais amplifié par une urbanisation in situ, conduit à d’importants gaspillages du territoire et de ses ressources naturelles. L’irréversibilité du phénomène actuel représente l’indicateur le plus préoccupant et la perte irrémédiable de la dimension rurale qui a déjà atteint des seuils critiques : aujourd’hui, l’enjeu majeur de l’urbanisation des campagnes se situe autant dans la planification des villes nouvelles, que dans le déficit de planification du rural, tant pour son aménagement que pour sa préservation.

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dario negueruela del castillo


architecture for alterity cognitive frames of tolerance and collaboration dario negueruela del castillo

architecture as agential articulation of space

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dario negueruela del castillo


The real power of the city is to change how we see others and ourselves. The birth and development of the great metropolises of the late XIX and early XX centuries led to social transformations deeper than simple results of industrialization or density. Thinkers of that era described how urbanization had pervasive effects ranging from the changing modes of social interaction to the formation of new societal values due to altering cognitive and emotional frames (Ă&#x2030;. Durkheim, 2001 {1912}; Simmel, 1950 [1903]; TĂśnnies, 2001 [1887]). Parallel to European growth in the 19th century, global territories are now undergoing rapid urbanization and analogous social evolutions. China stands out among these rapidly urbanized countries not just by the sheer scale of its transformation, but also by the centrally-planned nature of its framework. There, changes in societal structure and status are not just due to a successful period of intense industrialization, but in my opinion proof of an accrued epistemic performativity resulting from the intensified encounter of individuals in space. Thus, while such performativity might be understood in terms of the access to more services and resources (cultural, monetary, social) by the broader public, its relevance for the formation of contemporary cognitive frames requires the concourse of a particular spatial structure.

architecture as agential articulation of space

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dario negueruela del castillo


The deep spatial structure of our environment conditions our societal foundations. Dense architectural fabric, with its tight spatial integration, affords different regimes of co-presence of individuals than other less dense environments. It is in this framework where the challenges and potentials of the theme of this booklet, the Rural Return, need to be framed. These projects require not just a cosmetic restyling adequate to the urbanite class, but a thorough consideration of what architectural space can properly achieve in harnessing social capital. Modern contemporary urban societies arguably require a fertile ground of diverse and complementary elements that E. Durkheim (2001{1912}) characterized as the basis of modern society and which, in recent times, R. Florida (2005) identified playing a key part in social innovation. Such co-presence of social diversity contributes to the density of accessible otherness a non-trivial role in both the bridging and bonding (Putnam, 2001), also known as weak and strong ties in the work of Granoveter (1973), behind social capital. This is why, in addition to diversity and mobility, the dimension of place, with all its significance in terms of identity, memory and care, is equally important for such fertile grounds of a contemporary and rich urbanity.

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To this extent, we can identify the real importance of architecture in specifying the spatial conditions that ultimately facilitate or scaffold a structured articulation of social alterity and the affective and cognitive frames of tolerance and collaboration this helps form. This postulate elucidates a strategy that embraces the unavoidable dynamics of tourism together with a careful and attentive spatial transformation, sketching an adequate response to the challenges of contemporary China of which Xixinan is a paradigmatic example. Under this light, the analysis of existing forms and the projection of generative architectural articulations ought to embrace a reconsideration of space as capacity. By properly linking our consideration of space to the notion of agency, we elude the all too common and still pervasive notion of space as simple location and engage in more capable avenues for responding to pressing challenges of our times.

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from data to design reading and rewriting xixinan f. peter ortner

from data to design

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f. peter ortner


The study of the city and the design of its buildings is undergoing a revolution: data, data visualization and data analytics, once scarce, have now become ubiquitous from global smart cities to rural areas of developing countries. Open-source mapping, LIDAR, drone photogrammetry, GPS tracking, smart sensors- the list of new sources of urban data goes on and on even without listing the myriad databases and software platforms. Gathering, combining, analyzing and then implementing this data as a design input is a daunting task for contemporary architects that we have pushed to the forefront of the agenda in the Xixinan studio. Engaging the fundamental data behind urban problems can make architects leaders in the definition of larger-scale urban agendas instead of the recipients of increasingly closely bounded design problems. We used our studio in Xixinan as an opportunity to explore the implications of this claim. Xixinan, a rural village in Anhui, with its population depleted, seeks to draw back its departed residents and attract new visits from the increasingly prosperous residents on the coastal Chinese megacities. Deliberately we left the project loosely-defined. We set ourselves one major constraint- a priori- whatever was proposed would avoid replacing existing structures or displacing existing inhabitants: therefore, the proposal would be small and light and probably temporary. Program and location within the village was left to the student to determine. Analysis of spatial and social data should permit the student to discover creative solutions to problems that had been previously un-noticed or poorly understood.

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Building off this analysis students were able to sketch out scenarios of everyday life within the village, using the information drawn from the analysis to make conjectures about who would move where, when and why. We asked the students to consider active interventions in the villageâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s everyday life based on several verbs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; caring, learning, meeting- which encapsulated necessary preconditions to a re-invigorated rural life. Each student examined in depth how architectural affordance might meet the needs of rural activity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; caring for the elderly living alone, educating children with absent parents, integrating local patterns of life with temporal swings of a new population of tourists. For each verb we asked students to articulate not only a program fitting these verbs, but also what place in the village would make the biggest difference and specifically what people it would impact. These arguments were articulated in the terms of the data and analysis carried out initially, giving quantitative support to proposals that were ultimately social and architectonic in nature.

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Our analysis of the village- data-intensive- would be the remedy to a persistent doubt: what was to prevent a small intervention from being unseen, unused, irrelevant? The right program at the right spot, we argued, could have social impact much larger than its small size. The village is a framework for movement and an engine of social encounteranalysis of its forms and patterns reveals crucial junctures where people are most likely to pass by, most likely to meet. We identified key paths and intersections through analysis of the village pedestrian network using analytics including space syntax’s ‘integration’ measurement. A database of geo-referenced family names allowed us to overlay hotspots in urban networks with social centralities as defined by family bonds (see work by Paul Wang). Drone-generated orthophotos and points clouds allowed us to map out patterns of land use, crucial to the economy and social life of the rural village, revealing where land was actively in cultivation and with what intensity. (The drone survey was shared with us by the design collective MAPS and Ignacio Lopez Buson who had conducted an earlier workshop at Xixinan’s Turenscape Academy.) The point cloud also gave us 3-dimensional information on the shape of the historical architecture of the village and the array of small bridges and terraced access points serving its canals. New areas of construction, difficult to identify on the CAD survey but obvious in the drone survey, signaled new intensities of inhabitation. Newly built or widened roads showed us where automobile traffic was infringing on the village fabric.

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f. peter ortner


Data visualization returned in the final evaluation and presentation of the rural interventions. Each intervention was treated as dynamic: a process unfolding in time and space with many potential contributing actors. Conveying the integration of an architectural concept within a temporal and territorial scheme can be difficult in the static medium of the architectural drawing. In an effort to overcome these limitations and better communicate with invited stakeholders we presented each intervention first with an animated projection mapping on the site model â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a multi-sensorial display integrating the whole village and evolving over time. The display of the project as a dynamic and responsive entity, actively engaged with territorial forces brought back the initial analysis of the village and invited jury and stakeholders at the final review to enter into a more widely participatory feedback loop, an evaluation of the projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s urban deployment and possible configurations.

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01 atelier for skill transfer 02 rural satellite office 03 social scaffolding 04 public bath for curious tourists 05 communal laundry for activating canal life 06 playground for left behind children 07 family kitchen 08 tower for water harvesting 09 bus station for cultural exchange 10 personal mobility hub 11 rural kindergarden 12 greenhouse for value-added agriculture 13 public water point 14 village food court

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01 atelier for skill transfer charles gastaud The atelier aims at becoming a place for learning and transferring skills on traditional regional crafts, mainly woodworking. It is envisaged as a place where young people who return to the village can find a purposeful activity. Tectonically, the structure attempts to introduce a formal language that blends traditional and contemporary features, through the folded form of the roof, which is penetrated by two skylights, shaped to optimize light distribution during the winter period, and to avoid the shadows surrounding village buildings.

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NEXT GENERATION OFFICE IN XIXINAN

Xixinan, Rural Proto-typologies Timothée Laurans, Maximilien Stern

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02 rural satellite office timothĂŠe laurans & maximilien stern The warehouse is designed to welcome the rural returners and the local people by bringing workshop facilities and working spaces to the village. An important feature of the intervention is the integration of various spaces for meditation and relaxation in order to enhance the working experience. All spaces are organized in three floors starting from the more technical and noisy on the ground floor to the less technical and therefore less noisy on the upper floor. Thus, the workshop areas for woodworking and pottery take place on the ground floor while the meditation spaces, which vary in sizes and materials, are distributed on top of the ground volumes.

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Social scaffolding explores the bamboo scaffolding system as an initial vernacular typology, which can be altered to encompass for more complex structural and architectural systems.Blending computational processes of formgeneration with the traditional bamboo construction, the goal is to create a flexible architectural system that can accommodate various programs: film projections, bar and gaming areas, paths and seating areas. Considered a micro-infrastructure, digital scaffolding can act as a social condenser between visitors and rural inhabitants. Thus, these pavilions are generated to enhance outdoor public space and adapt to various sites.A distortion of the grid according to movement, context and accessibility, generates an environment where various programs can be appropriated without pre-conceived concepts of functionality and shape.

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04 public bath for curious tourists mickaĂŤl pelloquin A collection of filtered water tanks that supplements local water supplies during summer drought. Excess water is diverted to a public bath, which combines local leisure with touristic activity. The water tanks form a roof over the baths and reflect the iconic rooflines of adjacent Hui-style buildings.

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communal laundry for activating canal life


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05 communal laundry for activating canal life hĂŠloĂŻse doret & fiona uka The canal crossing Xixinan plays an important part in the life of the village. It generates spaces for different kinds of daily activities. Today, the canal is comprised by a series of steps creating different plateaus and suggesting different activities. We aspire to enhance those activities and the experience of the canal life by altering the number, dimensions, and texture of the elements and therefore proliferating the potential activities that can take place along the canal and on the plateaux.

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06 daycare for left behind child sanna englund The day care center is a meeting point, which brings two groups together -the local villagers and urban newcomers and enables knowledge exchange between them. New villagers teach the elderly to use digital technologies to keep in touch with relatives while older villagers pass to the new generation their knowledge on traditional crafts and customs. Moreover, the structure and form of the project comprise a playground for the children.

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family kitchen


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07 family kitchen paul wang In Anhui culture, the kitchen is an element often separated from the main building in the house, to prevent the propagation of fire and fumes in the house. Therefore, it is often built as a rough and easy to maintain shelter. This led us to consider to invert the traditional position of kitchens in Xixinan households and to bring them out to the public spaces to form the future cores of village life. Family kitchen is a gathering space devoted to culinary exchange and social activity to revive community life at a time of rural return. A series of pavilions is proposed which spread into the village fabric, often located in private gardens that open up newcomers.

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It is about height. Something you see from far, but not like a skyscraper. Just like a house a bit higher than its neighbours. Somewhere you go.

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It is about natural elements : water, wind and vegetation. The wind permits the collection of water, allowing the system to run autonomously. Vegetation acts as the last layer, to hide and to see. The corinthian order.

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It is about techniques. Fog harvesting, water tank, pressure, pump, flush. Every technical aspect triggers a social interest.

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It is about toilets. The government develops a huge national construction plan for new public bathroom. Simple, but very useful.

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It is about dualities. Introversion and relation. Private and public. To see and to hide. Wind and rest. It is not just a water tower. But a tower for water. From Vernacular to 2020.

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09 bus station for cultural exchange avo keuyalian The project aims at merging different programs in order to make xixinan and the particular square, the place where visitors will depart for excursions. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dual role will be to provide both for bus terminal while being a site where different performances take place (screenings, music, exhibitions, etc) This proposal turns the bus station into a scene for seasonal cultural events.

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N AVO / XIXINAN RURAL RETURN / 19-12-17

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10 rural kindergarden victoria fabian & erik marklinder Rural Kindergarden is a center where children and the elderly socialize together and educate each other. The purpose was to create a project that strengthens community bonds for the left-behind children of Chinese villages. Three vernacular typologies are important in the architectural formation of the building: a) the Chinese pitched roof, b) the courtyard house and c) the horsehead wall. The shape of the pitched roof challenges physical activity while the skylight augments and enhances indoor lighting conditions.

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11 personnal mobility hub maximilien stern A modular solar charging station for personal mobility devices. Currently the villagers almost exclusively use electric scooters. We imagine a future where elderly villagers gain access to personal electric mobility with small semiautonmous vehicles like the Segway Loomo.

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greenhouse for value-added architecture


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12 green house for value-added agriculture ian bichelmeier & benjamin lamps We want to promote the local culture of fresh products and variety, the knowledge and the research in farming and artisanal work. Our proto-typology is a space for humans and for plants; people visit and taste and walk around and consume and buy. The green house is a production space, a shop, an area of contemplation, as well as an exhibition space.

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13 public water point afonso polvora The Chinese government’s recent investment in touristic infrastructure for rural areas has had an unexpected protagonist: the public toilet. The reliable presence of a clean and publicly accessible water-point (access to free and clean drinking water is also crucial) makes mainstream touristic visits possible while also improving the everyday lives of the locals. This proposal for Xixinan is strategically located along the main street of the village. By providing an informal gathering area near a drinking fountain it creates new possibilities of social interaction between the locals and tourists. Toilets are discreetly placed in a daylit area at the back of the project. The project aims at being a practical infrastructure as well as a meeting point and a place of exchange.

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14 village food court evane christ gleglaud & jonathan perret The intervention aspires creating an urban space for gathering, by establishing an ecosystem of food selling, cooking and eating. Through the articulation of oven positions and fume tunnels, and through the orientation, the particular geometry and material selection of the units, the project creates its own microclimate. While the starting point of the investigation and inspiration is the Korean Ondol, the project evolves as a complex system of several units to create a highly heterogeneous thermal environment for all seasons.

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01 atelier for skill transfer charles gastaud section / description site / exploded axonometric 02 rural satellite office timothée laurans & maximilien stern model/description model / exploded axonometric 03 social scaffolding sanna englund & avo keuyalian vernacular precedent / description model / axonometric model studies 04 public baths for curious tourists mickaël pelloquin model / description site / exploded axonometric 05 communal laundry for activating canal life héloïse doret & fiona uka existing canal / description illustration / axonometric diagrams model / plan 06 daycare for left beind children sanna englund daily scene in xixinan / description site study / exploded axonometric 07 family kitchen paul wang vernacular kitchen / description site / exploded axonometric 08 tower for water harvesting juliette contat, flore guichot & kevin luzio vernacular water landscape / description axonometric / section perspective

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09 bus station for cultural exchange avo keuyalian vernacular public space / description site / exploded axonometric 10 rural kindergarden victoria fabian & erik marklinder xixinan roofs /description plan / section model / exploded axonometric 11 personal mobility hub maximilien stern vernacular transport / description illustration / plan 12 green house for value-added agriculture ian bichelmeier & benjamin lamps typical green house drawing / description site / axonometric 13 public water point afonso polvora actual public toilets / description plan / exploded axonometric model / plan 14 village foodcourt christ gleglaud & jonathan perret vernacular house / description model / exploded axonometric plan / heating section


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parametric studies iterative processes christina doumpioti

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While in the fall semester the focus was on urban analysis, socio-economic mapping, experience design and programmatic propositions, during the spring semester the focus shifted on architectural form, typology, and tectonics. ` Having as point of departure existing vernacular typologies, each project explored new architectural permutations rooted in historic precedents. Utilizing computational tools of formgeneration and analysis, the students established rule-based feedback processes through which several design solutions were explored. The design therefore of each intervention has been pursued through intrinsic capacities of the proposed system (typology, geometry, materiality, assembly logics) in response to extrinsic conditions (orientation, radiation, temperatures, wind pressure, structural loads). The aim was to start redefining form and typologies by anticipating different and often contradicting parameters and to build upon the dynamic relationship between â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;objectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; and environment. Form and performance became two attributes in continuous synergy, one defining and redefining the other through feedback (loops). Computational design methods assisted towards this end by providing the set-up for organizing the different parameters that would inform initial typologies. This multi-parameter approach allowed us to seek outcomes that correspond

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simultaneously to spatial, structural, material, programmatic, occupational and environmental variables. Furthermore, by utilizing optimization algorithms the assessment criteria have been integrated in the design process. For example, in ‘Digital Scaffolding’ it was important that the overall configuration of the pavilion would encompass for different programmatic needs, while being defined and constrained by the material thresholds of bamboo. During the form-finding process, when the material capacity of bending was exceeded, the design was either geometrically reconfigured or the assembly process was locally redefined. This was an iterative process, which took into consideration structural and assembly logics as well as material restraints and occupational aspirations. Similarly in the ‘Rural Satellite Office’ and ‘Rural Kindergarden’, natural light became a vital design parameter. In the first case, natural lighting and orientation, as well as diverse programmatic activities (office, fabrication lab, yoga rooms, utilities) and opening configurations, contributed to the overall performance enhancement through variable mediation. In the latter project, natural light analysis and optimization informed the attributes of the skylights (height, dimensions, tilting) to augment lighting distribution within the daycare center. This negotiation among multitude variables was similarly evident in the following projects: a) In ‘Village Food Court’, the parameter of heat becomes the most relevant in search for thermodynamic fluctuating boundaries.

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b) Predominant wind directions in relation to the global and local morphology and material selection were key factors for the generation of the ‘Tower for Water Harvesting’, as the structure aimed at enhancing fog reception. c) For the ‘Communal Laundry for Activating Canal Life’ the main driving parameter was materiality in response to diverse urban activities. The students approached the ground as a landscape of heterogeneous material textures whose pattern and roughness (or smoothness) were tailored according to different anticipated events. The mixed distribution of material patterns and textures allowed for the unforeseen emergence of new patterns of occupancy. Overall, the parametric interplay between ‘object’ and environment, allowed for the generation of prototypological matrices where each formation became “a diagram of the forces that have acted on them” (Thompson, 1961).

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PARAMETRIC ANALYSIS, ORGANIZATION AND SIZE

Xixinan, Rural Proto-typologies Timothée Laurans, Maximilien Stern

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Openning study for entrance: Openning study for entrance:

OPENINGS STUDY FOR ENTRANCE

OPENINGS STUDY FOR LIGHT for light: Openning study Openning study for light:

Xixinan, Rural Proto-typologies TimothĂŠe Laurans, Maximilien Stern

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digital scaffolding sanna englund & avo keuyalian

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communal laundry for activating canal life héloïse doret & fiona uka

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tower for water harvesting juliette contat, flore guichot & kevin luzio

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rural kindergarden victoria fabian & erik marklinder

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rural satellite office timothée laurans & maximilien stern

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village food court christ gleglaud & jonathan perret

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greenhouse for value-added agriculture ian bichelmeier & benjamin lamps

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daylight and wind analysis timothée laurans & maximilien stern juliette contat, flore guichot & kevin luzio

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The advent of new digital technologies has had a twofold impact on architectural thinking and urban design, transforming, on one hand, the processes for form generation and design production through algorithmic and parametric technologies, and on the other hand, enabling an escape from the static fate of the built environment by facilitating dynamic interaction between inhabitants and their surroundings. The Media x Design Lab, established in 2007 at the intersection of the school of architecture and the school of computer science at the EPFL examines these effects of digitalization on architectural, urban, and landscape design. One of the major research thrusts is in “computational urbanism.”   Over our first five years, from 2007 to 2012, we conducted within this research area a series of design studios entitled Organicities which explored the use of computer code and algorithms borrowed from biology (such as plant growth algorithms) to drive novel form-finding processes in architecture and urbanism. This work was sponsored by a research grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

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In 2016/17 our studio site was Changi Business Park in Singapore, a rapidly growing island-nation that has evolved from a port city to a logistics, service and knowledge hub. The studio challenged students to imagine how urban form can contribute to the vibrancy of this new district and how variations of urban form impact flow and micro-climate and by extension influence the development of vibrancy. We assert that it is precisely the new wave of digital tools (scripting, parametric modeling, and associative geometry) that enable the type of approach which is forwarded by the studioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research agenda. Â The ability to organize and leverage information permits the architect to approach projects of new scales and complexity. The logical management of variation allows the architect to avoid repetitive solutions and to maintain an equally high level of conceptual rigor across the entire project, to engage with that complexity rather than reducing it. An additional aspect is the ability to quickly and accurately produce quantitative information during the design process which can be used to strengthen the argument or inform the decision-making process.

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acknowledgements

fall 2017 students leandro arez, sanna englund, charles gastaud, avo keuyalian, maxence noiret, mickaël pelloquin, jonathan perret, afonso polvora, maximilien stern, fiona uka, paul wang spring 2018 students ian bichelmeier, juliette contat, sanna englund, victoria fabian, christ gleglaud, flore guichot, avo keuyalian, benjamin lamps, timothée laurans, kevin luzio, erik marklinder, héloïse matheydoret, jonathan perret, maximilien stern, fiona uka guest lecturers ludovico centis, frédéric druot, sebastian duque mahecha, colin fournier, nicole hatz, tomatsu ito, francis jacquier, darío negueruela del castillo, andrea rossi, pietro scarpa, matthew skjonsberg, ying xiong xixinan contacts turenscape academy

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authors jeffrey huang is the Director of the Media x Design Laboratory and a Full Professor at the Faculty of Computer and Communication Sciences, and at the Faculty of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC). He holds a DiplArch from ETH Zurich, and Masters and Doctoral Degrees from Harvard University, where he was awarded the Gerald McCue medal for academic excellence. He started his academic career as a researcher at MIT’s Sloan School of Management (Center for Coordination Sciences). In 1998 he returned to Harvard as an Assistant Professor of Architecture and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2001. In 2006 he was named Full Professor at EPFL in Switzerland where he holds joint professorships at I&C and ENAC, and heads the Media x Design Lab. He was also a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s d.school, a Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield, and a Berkman Fellow at Harvard University (Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society).In collaboration with Muriel Waldvogel, he heads Convergeo, an awardwinning, international strategic and experience design firm. From 2013-2016, while on leave from EPFL, he led the creation of a revolutionary new school of architecture in Singapore (Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programs), as the Head of the Architecture and Sustainable Design Pillar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), a new university established in collaboration with MIT.

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f. peter ortner is a doctoral candidate and lecturer in architecture with the Media x Design Lab (EPFL). His doctoral research explores the evolving formal basis of architecture in the data-driven city. He holds a Master in Architecture from Harvard University where he was recipient of the Faculty Design Award, and a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with distinction from Yale University. His professional experience includes work at SsD Architecture, Safdie Architects, and SOM New York. He maintains an architectural practice in Geneva. christina doumpioti is a scientific assistant at EPFL_Ldm. She holds a diplArch (with honours) from AUTH, Greece and received her Master of Architecture (MArch) with distinction from the Architectural Association, where she continued working as tutor and lecturer for ten years (2008-2018). She has been visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, California College of Arts and Brighton University.She has practiced in Arup Associates, London and collaborated with Buro Happold, London and OCEAN Design Research Association in various projects.

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francis jacquier (architecte EPFL, DSA Ecole de Chaillot) est architecte du patrimoine, il est architecte pilote du recensement architectural du canton de Genève. marlène leroux (architecte EPFL, Docteure en urbanisme) s’est spécialisée dans les phénomènes actuels d’urbanisation des campagnes chinoises, elle est actuellement coordinatrice scientifique du MAS Urbanisme EPFL/UNIGE. Tous deux sont les associés fondateurs d’Atelier Archiplein, d’architecture et d’urbanisme basée à Genève. Ils développe de nombreux projets et études patrimoniales en Europe et en Chine. dario negueruela del castillo currently heads the division of fundamental research at ALICE lab. In 2017 he completed his doctoral thesis “The City of Extended Emotions”. Prior to this, Dario studied at Madrid School of Architecture, ETSAM (Diploma of Advanced Studies, 2011), TU Delft, The Netherlands (MSc Arch, 2006) and Westminster, London (BA Arch & Urban design 2002). His research addresses the mutually constitutive dynamics between space and collective agency. More precisely, his enquiries look into the way in which urban space, through its degree of urbanity, enacts forms of collective agency (social movements) and how in turn these agencies modify and produce new space.

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teaching staff jeffrey huang f. peter ortner christina doumpioti frederick chando kim is an architect and instructor based in Zurich. His professional experience includes work at agps architecture, Safdie Architects, SOM San Francisco, and Gensler Los Angeles. Frederick Kim holds a Bachelor of Science in Art and Design degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master of Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Frederick is currently teaching at the Prof. Jeffrey Huangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Media x Design Laboratory at EPFL and for the chair of Prof. Dr. Marc AngĂŠlil at ETHZ. He has previously taught at Boston Architectural College. immanuel koh studied at the AA and practised at Zaha Hadid Architects (London), before starting his doctoral and teaching work at the Media x Design Lab (EPFL). He has taught internationally, including the AA, RCA(London), The Bartlett (UCL), Masterclass Studio Hadid at Die Angewandte (Vienna), Strelka Institute (Moscow), Dessau Institute of Architecture (Bauhaus) and Harvard GSD. His own academic research and professional practice investigates the creative and generative potential of machine learning, specifically within the context of architecture, design and art.

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design juliette contat received her BSc in Architecture in 2016 from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. She completed her 3rd year of Bachelor as an exchange student at Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (Stockholm, Sweden). After internships in Stockholm and Paris, she started her MSc in Architecture at EPFL in 2017 and was part of the Xixinan Rural Return Studio for the spring semester. She worked as a lab assistant at EPFL’s Media x Design Laboratory during the summer of 2018.

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sources The literature list comprises the sources mentioned in the texts as well as additional readings assigned during studio. Banham, Reyner.(1984). “Environmental Management.” The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment. 2nd ed. Chicago: Univer sity of Chicago Press. P.18-28. De Landa, Manuel. (2015). Philosophy and Simulation: the Emergence of Synthetic Reason. Bloomsbury. Durkheim, É. (2001). The Elementary forms of the religious life. (M. S. Cladis, Ed., C. Cosman, Trans.) (Originally published in 1912). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Evans, Robin. (1997). “Figures, Doors, and Passages.” Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays. Vol. 2. AA Documents. London: Architectural Association. Florida, R. (2005). Cities and the Creative Class. Routledge. Frazer, John. (1995). Evolutionary Architecture. London: Architectural Association. Granoveter, M. S. (1973). “The Strength of Weak Ties”. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380. Hensel, Michael, and Achim Menges. (2006). MorphoEcologies. Architectural Association.

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Jianming Su, Xiaomei Mei, Zhao Hao. “A Plan Generation System of Huizhou Traditional Residence”. Applied Mechanics and Materials Vols. 409-410 (2013) pp 486-495.
 http://or.nsfc.gov.cn/bitstre am/00001903-5/271658/1/1000007167259.pdf Kaye, Leon. (2011). Could cities’ problems be solved by urban acupuncture? Retrieved from  https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/urbanacupuncture-community-localised-renewal-projects Knapp, Ronald. (1989). China’s Vernacular Architecture: House Form and Culture. University of Hawaii Press. Kwinter, Sanford. (1992). “Landscapes of Change: Boccioni’s “Stati d’animo” as a General Theory of Models Source”: Assemblage, No. 19 (Dec), pp. 50-65 Published by: The MIT Press Stable Kwinter, Sanford. (2003). “The Computational Fallacy.” Thresholds, no. 26, pp. 90–92. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43876166. Liauw, Laurence. (2008). Architectural Design: New Urban China, Vol. 78, No 5. London: John Wiley & Sons. Lynn, Greg. (2011). Animate Form. Princeton Architectural Press.

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Xixinan: Rural Return  

In 2018 EFPL's Media x Design Lab traveled to Xixinan village in Anhui province to study the transformation of rural China is transforming a...

Xixinan: Rural Return  

In 2018 EFPL's Media x Design Lab traveled to Xixinan village in Anhui province to study the transformation of rural China is transforming a...

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