CONSERVATION vs. HERITAGE

URBAN RE-DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY FOR A WALLED VILLAGE IN CHINA

diploma project - 2008/09

Master / Diploma project 2008/09

 

Instructors:

 

Univ.-Prof. AA Dipl. RIBA Nasrine Seraji
Univ.-Prof. Dipl. Arch. Michelle Howard

 

This project can be seen as a master- plan or strategy to revitalize walled villages in the New Territories of Hong Kong or in the mainland of china. Walled villages are fortified settlements which were built from bigger clans to protect its inhabitants from piracy. Nowadays there are still several walled villages existing in the area of Hong Kong, New Territories and China, which started mutating into dead museums, slums ore are already torn down like the most famous example Kowloon Dark City (which in the beginning was a walled village).

 

Kat Hing Wai is one of these specific settlements which still used from its rural inhabitants. Because of a bad preservation plan given from the Chinese government and the introduction of an unthoughtful zoning regulation, the living conditions started decreasing drastically and without any interventions the intangible heritage will disappear.
The main character defining elements of walled villages are defensive elements (moat, wall and watch-out towers), the circulation with its multi-purposed communal use and its living units. Which were small courtyard houses (ping fong’s) in the past and nowadays transformed into 3-4 storeyed narrow vertical blocks.
The project operates on two different scales, an urban scale (macro) and with several interventions (micro) witch fit together in a bigger plan. The Interventions will change the programmatic density, the present use of the multiporposed circulation through implementing variations of different programs which are adapted to the current context of its inhabitants and visitors.

 

A new zoning regulation plan combined with reasonable living typologies which can be seen as a metaphoric swift from “horizontal orientated” courtyard houses to vertical ones. A conscious juxtaposing of two hybrid typologies (at the wall and inside the village) which are adapted to its inhabitants needs and therefore change their sizes and features, will provide a variety of different spaces, more light and a better ventilation of the whole village. The recreation of the moat and the wall with new features like vertical gardens and other recreational areas and there connection with a secondary semi-private circulation will reactivate social gathering at the border and inside the village. Through placing a variation of attractors and programs within the settlement and its reconnection to the outside, the walled village will gain more flexible and sustainable development possibilities.