We were asked to design affordable, dense housing in Suzhou, China. The site for our proposal was a 65m X 300m strip of dirt and rubbish when we first visited. The area used to be low-rise, rural housing but the local government had moved the residents into collective housing so a developer could create higher income, denser structures.
Several months later I returned to the site, to find that the local people had started planting vegetables. The site had been turned into allotments, because no construction had started yet. Nobody stole anyone else’s produce, and the whole area had small paths and small plants popping through the soil.
I watched the plants grow for almost 5 months while I worked on my project. The last time I visited, the lettuces and chillis were almost fully grown. A week before I returned to the UK, I heard that the whole place had been bulldozed in preparation for construction.
It seemed to me that the local people had very little control over large parts of their lives. My design attempts to give some control back to them, allowing them to choose their own space to build their apartments. I also tried to design a place that would allow the large influx of migrant workers to find somewhere to live that would let them easily integrate into the local community.
Status: School Project
Location: Suzhou, CN
Additional Credits: XLarch @ XJTLU - ARC205 | 2012 (tutor: Claudia Westermann | module leader: Nancy Diniz)