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Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.

Our philosophy revolves around the paradox embedded into the word “condition”, as a noun it refers to a context, a circumstance, or a situation, while as a verb it implies change - to condition something based on an original state.




Condition_Lab © 2020 School of Architecture,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
 



Condition_Lab is a Design Research Laboratory based within the School of Architecture at CUHK. Established in 2018, our primary focus is to improve people’s lives through design.

The Lab’s research resolves around designing socially responsible architectural prototypes. By working hand-in-hand with local partners on real sites, our aim is to develop projects that foster a better sense of community. The prototype acts as a vessel to generate new knowledge about how people inhabit their environment.




Middle Ground
Hong Kong, 2020
UGC Research Grant
Living Heritage: Preservation Strategies for China’s Middle Ground


Caught between China’s ever-expanding urban centres and marginalized rural villages exists an amalgamated territory that has surprisingly been overlooked and dismissed by the profession and academics. We have coined this diffused landscape “Middle Ground”, a peripheral urban condition distinctive to China. China’s Middle Ground is not planned, it is continuously transforming and characterized by a series of generic buildings typologies: three-story concrete frame houses, corrugated pitch roofed warehouses, brick-clad factories and glass office buildings. Beyond these anonymous buildings, exists a complex network of once-rural historical villages, once the backbone of vital trade routes, that are today disappearing at alarming rates.

The future existence and eventual integration of these traditional villages back into the daily life of China’s “Terrain Vague” is the topic of this research. By taking a network of Hakka villages centered around the village of He Xin Wu (何新屋), Guangdong Province, the proposal seeks to study a dozen traditional Hakka villages along the ancient Yue Gan Trade Route (粤赣驿道) connecting Guangdong and Jiangxi, with the aim to understand and assess their status vis-à-vis configuration, construction and potential revitalization. The urgency of the research relates to two critical issues: firstly the great majority of these rural settlements are not listed for preservation and hence will soon disappear – demolished and redeveloped. Secondly, the few examples that have been listed have been earmarked as future tourist destinations, a mixed blessing that most probably will act as a temporary solution with the risk of suffocating their existence and preventing a genuinely sustainable recovery.

The research methodology relies on community participation, involving the public directly into the formulation of a new social framework to establish critical relationships between heritage and territory. Via a series of architectural prototypes, pilot projects that stimulate civic action and establish the “re-acquisition of historical consciousness” to quote the Italian architect Giancarlo De Carlo, this proposal seeks to recover existing historical structures via architectural operations. Without innovation and solutions that challenge China's Middle Ground, its rural DNA risks being lost and vanishing forever. Architecture through the integration of heritage and technology can facilitate a realignment and promote a positive change between rural traditions and the inevitable socio-economic restructuring. He Xin Wu represents a unique opportunity to stimulate a sense of place, instill civic pride and social engagement in a constantly mutating and often anonymous landscape.



Fund
HKD 994, 000

Period
2020 - 2022

Research Team
Prof. Peter W. Ferretto
WANG Haoran Howard 

Collaboration
Prof. CAI Ling
Guangzhou University

Prof. MIERIGGI Maurizio
Politecncio di Milano



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