Xiaozhou Village

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Xiaozhou village is an urban village in Guangzhou. It is not quite easy to reach it (takes around one hour by public transport from the city centre) and the village is surrounded on the south side by the Yingzhou Ecological Park. The village has a slightly different history than other urban villages as in the 1980s, some artists came and settled in the village. Shrines and old houses were converted into art studios. The village was entered into the nationwide ‘Beautiful Village’ campaign and many buildings are signposted as ‘immovable heritage’ by the district government.

What is different about Xiaozhou Village is that due to the actions of the artists, the development of the village into a typical ‘mature’ urban village has slowed down. Many of the old buildings and shrines are still standing. The active use of its old buildings and environment in the past 30 years has enabled the preservation of its rural aspects – old buildings, tree-lined streets, riverways, bridges and piers – and time for the local heritage department to survey the village, step in and exert certain amounts of protection on the remaining built heritage. However, with the lack of sufficient building control, Xiaozhou village is at the same time also developing further into an urban village. The village is currently at an awkward position of trying to retain its heritage while enabling the development of rental apartments and the continuous arrival of migrant populations. How do we then allow the two to coexist together?

There are many examples of coexisting in Xiaozhou Village: old buildings repurposed, old streets occupied as courtyards, new buildings made to echo the old…

One of the very interesting one I thought was the use of oyster shells in the village:

DSC00680.jpgTraditional house with walls built with oyster shells.

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New concrete building with oyster shells pasted as decoration.