Dreamland of Huizhou: The Revitalisation of Huizhou Rural Community

Jingting (Ariel) Wang

[email protected]
When the theatre does not have a performance / Bask in the autumn(晒秋).

China consists of thirty-four provinces (administrative divisions of China: the first level is the province; the second level is the city; the third level is the rural area), fifty-six ethnic groups and multiple types of terrain (mountains, plateaus, basins, plains, hills). China displays a vivid collection of vernacular architecture with unique regional characteristics—particularly in the rural regions across the country.

However, with the rapid growth of its construction industry in the past three decades, China’s regional architectural vocabularies have been progressively taken over by pale duplications of Western modernist architecture. Simultaneously, China’s rural communities face several significant social challenges, including slow economic growth, loss of the youth population, and decaying historic buildings.

As a result, architecture will operate as an active participatory element to intervene in the existing rural community structure and requires urgent action to be taken.

As a response to the bleak situation, this thesis will explore traditional Chinese architectural compositions, tectonics, and construction as a way to understand the formation of its rural settlements. It will utilise Xu Village in the Huizhou region (Anhui Province) as a case study, seeking design strategies that maintain its vernacular architectural languages while fulfilling contemporary villagers’ daily needs, to achieve true rural revitalisation.

Background information about Huizhou.
Photography taken by me.
History of Xu Village and Huiju.
Master Plan
Overview plan depicting the rural community situation of Xu Village.

The design research project aims to create a unique Huizhou-style contemporary theatre dedicated to the heritage of Huizhou opera, a local intangible cultural heritage. Combining contemporary and traditional Huizhou architectural elements through an innovative translation process, the project proposes to revitalise the rural community of Xu Village and meet the needs of the local youth in terms of lifestyle and working environment. Where feasible, it will create a new blueprint for the future of the rural community by focusing on the traditional culture of Huizhou opera, using traditional artistic techniques to breathe life into the village.

The Drunken Concubine
Emotions of The Drunken Concubine are translated into the spatial language of architecture.
Axonometric drawings for different parts of the theatre.
First Floor Plan

Internally, the design proposal aims to raise awareness of the Xu Village community's unique cultural heritage, while providing a good multi-functional public space where locals can interact. Externally, the proposal will enable visitors to gain comprehensive knowledge about the local folklore and intangible cultural heritage of Xu Village, leading to the village’s increasing cultural outputs and economic development.

Huiju collage
Activity moments that are performed under different scenarios of theatre.