Design Studio

Real Villages 

He Xin Wu 2018

This Design Research Studio looks at the possibilities of rethinking abandoned rural Chinese villages and capitalizing on a disappearing rural culture.  After the catastrophic effects on urban heritage, modernization is now in the process of decimating most of China’s rural villages.  By designing “real” projects for the abandoned village of Hexin Wu (何新屋), located in Guangdong Province, China, our ambition is to present an alternative way to re-think the issue. To challenge conventional preservation paradigms, instigated by a national rural heritage policy focused on introducing tourism as a rural solution. In short, we aim to make these abandoned villages operational again.  


Mud is utmost important to the village. Villagers depend on mud to farm to support their own living and they use the mud to build. They lived in the Mud. Mud is also a sustainable material, when it is damaged, it can be reused to remake mud bricks and then to a whole new building. With the concept of sustainability, an infrastructure to inherit the technique of making mud brick was proposed. The demand of the village in the future years is unknown, through providing an infrastructure for making mud brick, sustainability in providing the building elements that can apply to any future architecture the villagers need can be achieved. The project included a library, a mud brick workshop, and an accommodation area.


He Xin Wu is famous for some traditional Hakka food such as roasted peanuts and bean curd. However, they are now stored as exhibition objects in dark rooms of rammed-earth houses. We would like to provide a platform for villagers to perform this traditional technique again and allow this Hakka culture to be learnt by visitors from ouside the village. The concept of layer is the driven force in the design. The ruin now breaks the continuity of layers from the heritage to the field. Therefore, ruin was chosen as the site to completing the layers of this village. The revitalization project includes four phases with seven zones: Hakka Crafts Workshop, Food Market. Exhibition Hall. Experimental Farm, Learning Centre. Tea House and Hostels. 


This project is based on the design intent of “Reflection on Perspective” to devise architectural interventions by injecting new architecture and maintaining the continuity of ruins for the abandoned village of He Xin Wu. It can achieve the overall visual and spatial resonance with the beauty of the ruinous state of the village and make an impact to the village that can integrate villagers and attract outsiders to take part in this new vitality of rural culture. the project consists of six interventions, a vistor centre, a memorial, a playground, a hostel, a library and a theatre, which form the journey of ruins to lead villagers and outsiders to a return of rural impression, continuity of Hakka architectural ruins and a new definition of tower.


The main audience of this project is the local people, but also for those who are brave enough to step out of the comfort zone and willing to touch the ground and meet the real local people. To introduce tourism as a means to reactivate the village, unique experiences from site visit have been extracted and categorised by various human sense, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, and haptics etc. Through these senses as the lens, visitors from non-rural areas will gain an all-round personal experience as to extensively fathom the beauty of Hekka culture. The project included a cultural centre, a culinary centre and hostel, which make visitor stay and experience the fragments of Hakka life inside the village. 


Course Instructor

Prof. Peter W. Ferretto


De Guerre Amelie
Fong Chun Hin Jacky
Fung Ping Hang Bono
HA Po Yi Bowie
HUNG Wing Chuen Stanley
Hussain Shakir
LAM Pui Yeung Javee
NGAN Wing Sze Gillian
TAM Ho Fung Issac
TAM Nga Man Gloria
TSANG Siu Fung Simon
YUEN Suet Ying Circle
ZHANG Fengji Freddie