Design Studio 

New Community Market Prototype

Heyuan 2019

"The vital principle is not the love of Knowledge, but the love of Change" 
J. Ruskin, On the Art of Life, 1853

What can architecture do? Does society no longer expect anything from architecture? Have architects become impotent vis-à-vis powerful construction companies and an over regulated system? This design studio wishes to challenge these assumptions in an attempt to empower the discipline again by venturing into the “Middle Ground”, an undefined “terrain vague” (Sola-Morales - Rubio, 1995) land, poised between ever expanding urbanization and disappearing rural villages. China’s middle ground is a paradoxically infinite territory that interests few (architects) and seems to relentlessly develops via a lethal combination of market forces and design osmosis. We have an opportunity to propose and establish a new integrated vision.   

We will work specifically in a network of villages and small towns in Guangdong province located around the village of He Xin Wu. Your task, working in teams, will be to develop new relationships between the market building as “Social Infrastructure” and the existing context.  We will design a series of market spaces, commercial spaces for public trade.  Most public life in these areas centers around places of commerce, the street, the shop, the restaurant.  Rather than dismiss this phenomenon you will work out methods of how the market typology can be adapted, transformed and improved.  China’s Middle ground has a specific method of construction based on reinforced concrete frame, a defined set of materials typically glass, blocks, bricks, timber and glass.  We will study the tectonics behind the ordinary and use our findings as the starting point for our designs. 


Course Instructor

Prof. Peter W. Ferretto