Gaobu Children’s Library
The aim of this project is to develop an alternative and sustainable strategy to regenerate Dong Minority villages in China via new architectural prototypes that respond to contemporary rural developments and foster minimum impact to the existing fabric of the village. The Dong ethnic minority people are one of China’s 56 ethnic groups, who live in the region delimited by southwest Hunan, southeast Guizhou and north Guangxi. With a population of almost three million and a long history of more than 1,000 years dating back to the Tang Dynasty, the Dong communities are today, in a similar manner to many other Chinese rural settlements, deeply affected by the phenomenon of “Village Hollowing”. This unprecedented exodus of rural populations to expanding urban areas, has resulted in almost vacant villages inhabited by struggling communities of mostly elderly people and children.
Children represent Gaobu's biggest asset towards a sustainable future. With most of the working population gone, Gaobu is today populated by two predominant demographic groups, children and elderly. Most children being raised by their grandparents until the age of ten years old when they are forced to leave to study in nearby towns. Educational facilities such as schools and libraries are poor and in some cases non-existent, hence this prototype will seek to generate an educating incubator offering facilities for both children and elderly. Based on our fieldwork findings it is evident that many of the local customs such as crafts, singing and music are slowly dying and the possibility of creating a knowledge center where both modern and traditional teaching could happen will benefit the community. Additionally Gaobu’s inhabitants need urgent education relating to issues regarding food and health, where our prototype could integrate both a medical clinic and community center.