The widespread process of urbanisation, its exertion into new territories and its transformation on existing settlements is creating new contexts with unique spatial characteristics, impacting villages, social structures, economies and built form. Rural Urban Framework focuses on sites at the frontline of this process, in the hinterlands and peripheral areas where the effects of urbanization are beginning to take hold.
The exhibition Material Contexts presents an in-progress perspective on Rural Urban Framework’s Baojing Cultural District project in Hunan Province, China. Materials have shaped architectural ideas throughout history and cultures, they are practical as well as intellectual tools which communicate powerful messages. The exchange of knowledge and community engagement is integral to the development of the project in Baojing, transforming a way of thinking about material fabrication and stimulate the local economy through new making processes. Input from local villagers and low-skilled workers helps to install a sense of cultural identity in the new district for the community. As an alternative to the common top-down systems of planning, design and methods of construction, the project serves to unite existing cultural assets, but also to engage local production and rural inhabitants.
The design and making process rethinks how methods of low budget fabrication, along with creative reinterpretations of locally sourced materials, can make up an innovative palette for the project. These new building methods enable the learning of new skills, better-quality construction of local labourers and the freedom to make decisions in the field allowing for the realisation of new forms of material expression.
The exhibition is split into four sections: Fabric, Ground, Mass and Material. Objects and models scaled from 1:1000 to 1:1 tell the story of how ideas take shape and form, through a complex process of experimentation and detour, to evolve a new architectural language for building.