Architectural Record

Qiaonan Village Historic Preservation Scheme

While much of China is building new cities at a rapid rate, the country's historic towns are often ignored or transformed beyond recognition. But the Qiaonan Village Historic Preservation Scheme, designed by the planning and architecture firm EDAW, seeks to preserve core historic buildings, modify and restore other structures, and add new construction at the edge of the city of Quanzhou. “This project represents an emerging type of response in Chinese cities, with a focus on regeneration, rather than replacement, as a vital part of the urbanization process,” writes Michael Erickson, managing principal at EDAW, via email.

An ancient riverfront settlement, Qiaonan Village is best known for its location as the starting point of the “Silk Road of the Sea,” the maritime trade route between East and South Asia and Mediterranean Europe. Located on China's southeastern coast roughly half way between Shanghai and Hong Kong, Qiaonan has become an important stop for cultural heritage tourists. The village's residences represent a wide range of architectural styles native to the region, and its Luoyang Bridge, a 1000-year-old granite structure connecting the village to Luoyang, has been designated a national cultural heritage structure. Additionally, the Sea Silk Road is a candidate for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and EDAW's plan should help the area earn this status.

The revitalization plan for the 133-acre village is far-reaching and prioritizes economic, environmental, and social sustainability. After undertaking an economic analysis of local and regional conditions, EDAW determined an appropriate way to grow the area's tourism sector. “We focused on the unique vernacular and the fabric of the village to promote a tourism strategy that enhances Qiaonan's heritage,” says Erickson. Key elements of the plan include building a road to reconnect nearby mountains to the center of town, adding new facilities for leisure and entertainment activities, creating a pedestrian promenade along the riverfront, and improving water quality in the river estuary.

EDAW's plan also offers detailed design guidelines to ensure the continued use of traditional typologies, materials, and design elements. At the same time, it calls for the incorporation of new construction to help tourism, culture, recreation, and residential development. The firm hopes its work will help establish a “transformative and sustainable path” for the village to follow and create a “layered, intertwined experience” for the people living in and visiting the village, states Erickson. Once completed, the scheme may also enhance the growing popularity of projects that provide for future growth and development while preserving China's historic towns and villages. Diana Lind

Location: Quanzhou City, Fujian
Planners: EDAW
Client: Quanzhou Luojiang Real Estate Co.

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