Applying principles of thoughful architectural design to the revitalization of shrinking villages across rural China is a labor that often goes unrecognized. Today the work of Joshua Bolchover and John Lin of nonprofit firm Rural Urban Framework (RUF) is in the center of attention: the young Hong Kong-based practice is the 2015 winner of the prestigious Curry Stone Design Prize. RUF is honored by the Curry Stone Foundation not only for its design work but also its mission, research, and the larger, positive social impact on the local population.
Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi will publicly announce the result this afternoon at a panel at the Chiago Architecture Biennial which officially swings its gates open this Saturday, October 3. If you happen to be in the Windy City this weekend, come and join us for our sister site Archinect's special Biennial live-podcasting event, "Next Up." We will be speaking with RUF's John Lin among many other Biennial exhibitors.
Here's more information we've received from the Curry Stone Design Prize:
"Founded in 2006 by University of Hong Kong professors, Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, Rural Urban Framework seeks to use design to help stabilize, reinvigorate and rebuild villages across China that are rapidly losing residents due to the country’s rural-to-urban migration.
“The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.”"
"China is undergoing an unprecedented migration from rural villages into urban cities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. This trend is expected to accelerate under a government plan to move an additional 250 million rural residents into cities by the year 2025. As a result, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day, according to research by Tianjin University."
"Rural Urban Framework uses design to address the hollowed-out cities and the poorly constructed urban sprawl that is fast replacing former villages. Both of the firm’s co-founders, John Lin and Joshua Bolchover, were raised in depopulating rural cities — Lin in the United States’ Rust Belt, and Bolchover in Manchester. Drawing inspiration from these landscapes, the design firm has built schools, community centers, hospitals, houses and infrastructure such as garbage collection in villages and urban sprawl settings across China. “When we began the collaboration I was most interested in understanding these volatile landscapes or ambiguous landscapes, but then also how to act,” said co-founder Joshua Bolchover."
"To date, Rural Urban Framework has worked in 18 rural villages in China areas that are about to undergo major transformation. The firm works in a collaborative and participatory manner with the local inhabitants. The scales of the projects vary, from small interventions, such as bridge-building and construction of prototype housing, to designing and planning entire villages."
"The firm, which currently has four designers, including co-founders sees China as “an ideal laboratory” to explore the future of architecture and design. “In China and the world, we live in an urban age, but we believe its future course is intertwined with the fate of the rural,” states Rural Urban Framework."
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