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Eco-sensitive architecture helps lift a rural Chinese village out of poverty

In the misty tea terraces of southwest China, Hangzhou-based architecture practice gad · line+ studio has recently completed an eco-sensitive redevelopment project to help a rural village attract tourism revenue. Commissioned by major Chinese property developer Sunac and the Youcheng Foundation of the State Council Poverty Alleviation Office, the “targeted poverty alleviation” project included 2,400 square meters of renovation, new construction and landscape beautification to transform Guizhou’s rural Longtang village into a cultural destination with guesthouses, a new theater and other amenities. Prefabricated construction, locally sourced natural materials and solar panels were used to reduce the project’s environmental footprint.

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Home to the Miao community, the traditional Chinese village of Longtang has suffered from depopulation and decline due to a lack of job opportunities. To sustainably revitalize the village and celebrate the local culture, the architects renovated 750 square meters of existing architecture and added 1,650 square meters of new construction to attract tourists. 

Related: Site-sensitive Woodhouse Hotel promotes agricultural tourism in Guizhou

large wood building on a misty hillside
stone paths between wood buildings

The renovation of the village’s traditional stilt buildings was a key part of the project. Locals who were increasingly renovating their structures with modern and cost-effective materials such as cement and brick had been inadvertently eroding their village’s history. As a result, the architects created a series of reconstruction demonstration projects to show villagers how locally sourced and low-cost materials can be used with space-optimizing layouts to beautifully improve the buildings. The architects also installed solar panels on the sloped roofs.

beige sofas and wood benches in wood-lined room
person sitting near fireplace in large white room with walls of glass

To develop a tourism revenue stream, the architects built eight new hillside-embedded guesthouses that mimic the traditional Miao stilt architecture along with the Mountain House, a prefabricated, public-facing building with a panoramic roof terrace, an outdoor theater and an infinity pool. Like the guesthouses, the Mountain House appears to “float” above the landscape, but it does feature a more contemporary aesthetic.

infinity pool overlooking mountains and valleys
large white volume cantilevered over glass building

“The public building of Mountain House breaks through the traditional rural building styles, trying to create a refined and pure modern sense to dialogue with the mountains,” the architects explained. “The building is naturally divided into two L-shaped volumes according to the height differences with the mountain.”

+ gad · line+ studio

Photography by Arch-Exist Photography via gad · line+ studio

series of wood hotel suite buildings on a hillside

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