Recently, Chongqing has promoted a special project to empower professionals specialized in planning, architecture, engineering, and art design to serve rural construction and create an ecological and livable environment in rural areas. “The houses which we are living in are tailor-made,” say the residents of Yubei District, who are delighted to introduce their houses to everyone they meet.
Beautiful villages for ecology, life, business, and tourism are springing up.
In the village, there are crisscross paths in the vast fertile farmland, old trees, ancient wells, stone houses, etc. Located in Datianchi Village of Luoqi Town, Yangjiacao is one of the first traditional villages in Chongqing. Most of the houses here were built in the late Qing Dynasty, with characteristics of traditional Bashu residences well preserved.
“Before the project of design for rural construction, the area was dragged by depopulation, squalor and scattered settlements.” As introduced by a competent official with the Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Yubei District, Luoqi Town signed technical service agreements with Chongqing University, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, and other universities and colleges in 2019, aiming to combine “ecological protection” and “dynamic development” and develop the village into an “unexpected, surprising and enjoyable” place.
“Many village houses have been reduced to rubble, and many of the residents sequester themselves with closed doors and windows. We should figure out how to renovate these houses in compact and scattered residential areas that differ a lot in terms of physical features while keeping their original style,” said Professor Hu Bin of Chongqing University, who was responsible for the redesign of Yangjiacao Village. He still felt impressed when he recalled his first visit to the village.
Since the beginning of construction, Yangjiacao has seen unprecedented changes — abandoned pigsties were converted to “parlors.” Muddy ponds were cleaned and planted with lotus flowers with an observation deck built beside them; infrastructures like solar streetlights, flagstone roads, and communication base stations provide greater convenience to villagers.
Looking at the neatly arranged and clean houses, Yang Lizhong, a villager of Yangjiacao, gave a bright smile and said, “With the infrastructure and the environment improved, young people come back more often, and more tourists come to visit here!”
Located in Qinglong Village of Dasheng Town, Taihechang, a rundown place not far from Yangjiacao has been transformed into a “land with picturesque scenery.” Every tree and bush is full of vigor, showing a new rural landscape of a village with a pleasant living environment.
“The earth walls here used to be shabby and damp, and the beams of some houses were simply made of tree branches.” In order to ensure housing safety and make the renovated houses adapt to villager’s original pace of life, staff members from the Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Yubei District consulted with the designers and decided to ask the designers to visit the village regularly and discuss construction methods with construction workers, so as to ensure the desired effect.
“On top of that, every house has a vegetable garden in the front yard so that we can keep planting vegetables.” Li Guangxin, a villager of Taihechang, said happily.
“Repairing village houses is just the first step we take. What is more important is to achieve sustainable development in the village,” said a relevant person in charge from the Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Yubei District, “After the completion of the project, the design team will pay random return visits to clear up villagers’ confusion. They will dig into and take advantage of farming culture and characteristic traditional dwellings, promote agriculture-tourism integrated development, and translate lucid waters and lush mountains into development resources.”
The projects of Yangjiacao and Taihechang are just a microcosm of Yubei District’s efforts to boost the redesign of village houses as part of the rural revitalization strategy. Over recent years, under the guidance and support of the Commission, the panel for the redesign of village houses has solicited public opinions, dived deep into traditional local culture and architectural elements, and conducted redesign work from the perspectives of village layout and function expansion. By now, the number of village houses renovated tops more than 18,000, benefiting about 65,000 people.
To advance the redesign of village houses, the Commission has endeavored to build a talented team for the redesign of village houses. It has recruited more than 500 talented people in architecture, landscape, city planning, art design, culture design, and new building materials from vocational institutions, design institutes, and construction enterprises. Besides, it has hired 43 experts in rural planning, design, and construction from Chongqing University, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, and Chongqing Architectural Design Institute established the Chongqing Panel for the Redesign of Village Houses and guided relevant efforts. In addition, experts and scholars have been selected from the talent pool to redesign village houses, and 37 studios have been set up in 37 districts and counties of Chongqing. More than 600 village and town construction management personnel and over 13,000 rural construction craftsmen have been trained by making full use of the national training bases.