Sustainability Research and Rural Chinese Villages

Fri, 15 Apr 2016 09:47:00 BST

Professor Adrian Pitts and Dr Yun Gao of the Centre for Urban Design Architecture and Sustainability paid a successful visit to China linked to their research into rural villages over the Easter vacation.

Firstly they were guests of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) with whom Professor Pitts has had links over many years. CUHK is home to the top research rated School of Architecture in Hong Kong and a research group led by Professor Edward Ng famed for its humanitarian links within mainland China. Prof Pitts and Dr Gao met first with the research team responsible for rural projects and then attended a TED event with presentations from several key researchers. The Huddersfield Team have been invited to link with CUHK staff who will facilitate and support working in SW China.

The second stage of the visit involved participation in a multinational event as guests of Yunnan Arts University (YAU) an organisation with which the University of Huddersfield signed a memorandum of Understanding in 2012 and with which Dr Gao has many academic links. Huddersfield joined with staff and students from: YAU; Intuit.lab, Ecole de Design et Communication Visuelle, France; Burapha University, Thailand; Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (based in Malaysia); China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Design College of Jiangnan University, China; and the National Taiwan University of Arts.

The photo below shows a selection of participants including most of the academic staff on the front row (Dr Gao and Prof Pitts are just right of centre).

Participation involved group visits to museums and architectural and cultural sites in and around the city of Kunming (the capital city of Yunnan with a population of about 7m). Students from Huddersfield will have work exhibited at the ‘Creative Kunming’ exhibition in June 2016. Professor Pitts and Dr Gao (who is a Visiting Professor at YAU) also made presentations on their teaching and research interests to a specially convened seminar of architecture staff and students at YAU. They also met with the Head Architect of Kunming Design Institute and with the Head of the Seismic Testing research group at Kunming University of Science and Technology.

Professor Pitts and Dr Gao are particularly active in developing research projects in rural SW China and they had the opportunity to meet with architects and visit several villages (including in the well-known area of Dali) and to discuss research impacts with designers and particularly village leaders. It is vital to understand the cultural and clan/family issues involved in small villages in order to develop sustainable design solutions. Yunnan is important in this respect as an area well-known for its diversity with 25 of China’s 55 ethnic groups being represented in the area, and often most clearly differentiated in the villages. Kunming also featured in the current ROTOR Exhibition ‘China East-West’, at Huddersfield Art Gallery until 23 April.

The photo below shows one of the village renovation projects visited on the trip to Yunnan.

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