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A social project

by SUZANNE MIAO on Dec 20, 2011 in Architecture
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 The renovation of TaipingBridge in Guizhou province brought together students from Hong Kong and China – and helped revitalise a the spirit of a village community

Last November, John Lin, an assistant professor from the University of Hong Kong, was awarded a Certificate of Excellence at the Perspective Awards 2011, together with a team of students from the department of architecture at the University of Hong Kong and Chongqing University. The project, a renovation and restoration of the historic 300-year-old Qing dynasty Taiping Bridge in China’s Guizhou province, was made possible with the support of the Wu Zhi Qiao Foundation, and has also won a Highly Commended award at the Architecture Review Emerging Architecture Award 2011.

A two-year reconstruction and surface renovation project, the bridge is sited next to a village which has undergone massive changes, reflective of the rapid urbanisation process elsewhere. Led by professors and students – who included Jiaxin Chum, Li Bin, Charles Lai, Zhang Xudong, Abdul Yeung, Gu Lik Hang, Cheng Hiu Tung, Lau Hiu Yeung, Chu Ling Tung and Cheung Wai Nga – the project also addressed the issue of sustainable development in Chinese villages.

The Wu Zhi Qiao Foundation commissioned the University of Hong Kong to repair the bridge, involving students in all the design and construction work. The bridge was therefore not only physical but metaphorical, bringing together students from Hong Kong with students in China and the denizens of Taiping village. 

At one time, the bridge was the centre of village life and its primary marketplace. However, its importance has been largely diminished by highway construction and nearby urban development. Though the primary task was to repair a collapsed arch, the larger problem was how to revitalise the once important and historic location. Taiping Bridge used to connect two villages and the local marketplace was situated in an area directly next to it. A new highway, however, meant the bridge was no longer necessary. Then, the bridge itself collapsed, threatening the future of the market itself.

 Read the full story in the January 2012 issue of Perspective magazine! 

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