Across China: Empty rural buildings embrace new life
BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- In a two-story building made of blue bricks and grey tiles, a lecture room downstairs has been fitted with a projector screen. Even sitting upstairs, villagers can view movies on the screen while enjoying the sunshine beaming in through the skylights.
In the 200-square-meter multifunctional auditorium, villagers can drink tea, hold parties, read in a library, watch movies and receive online education, making its history as a former fish sauce warehouse a distant memory.
It is the professors and students from the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University who have converted the deserted building in Dongjiao Village on Dayushan Island, east China's Fujian Province.
Through a rural vitalization workstation project launched by the university in 2017, the architectural talents have converted empty buildings in rural areas into public service platforms to help promote rural vitalization.
Located in the city of Fuding, Dayushan was listed among the "top 10 most beautiful islands of China" by the Chinese National Geography magazine in 2005.
Dongjiao Village, once a fishery village, has drawn many tourists. As villagers have made fortunes by developing rural tourism and homestay businesses, there is a growing demand for a venue to enrich their cultural lives and more scientific planning for the village to better develop tourism.
In February 2018, an investigation team from Tsinghua visited the village.
"Plenty of abandoned houses came into our view when we entered the village, and we were thinking about what we could do with them," recalled Cheng Zhengyu, a doctoral candidate and a team member, adding that the renovation plan was then formed to have the deserted fish sauce warehouse serve the villagers again in a different way.
After communicating with the locals, the team began to measure, create renderings and draw up construction samples. In March 2019, an art-filled two-story auditorium was completed.
In recognition of their contribution to rural vitalization, Fuding City awarded honorary villager certificates to five Tsinghua students who participated in the project.
Among them was Chin Pey Ting, a Malaysian Tsinghua graduate, who led the design of the auditorium.
"Once I saw children playing with blocks in the auditorium, I felt a sense of accomplishment," recalled Chin, who now works for a Malaysian architectural firm.
Moreover, the team helped the village design a logo used for cultural and creative products such as mobile phone cases and postcards. They also optimized the outer design for the packaging of local specialties.
Cheng said the team has started the second phase of the renovation project in the village, with a batch of homestays featuring unique characteristics of the fishing village.
Over the past three years, Tsinghua University has signed with 14 provinces and cities to establish 19 workstations for rural vitalization. To date, seven workstations have been completed, said Zhang Hong, an assistant professor and the initiator of the rural vitalization workstation project from Tsinghua University.
In addition to holding public activities such as communication, entertainment and training for villagers, the workstations can also serve as a platform linking various resources outside to help villagers work together with local universities and enterprises, said Zhang.
"We hope the workstation will help villagers live happier and better lives," said Zhang. Enditem