A new cultural space in a rural area of Beijing
RENGARCH and KEYWORKS designed together a public space for the local community in a village in Shunyi District of Beijing. The space includes a public stage for folk art performances, playing areas for children as well as a platform for local gatherings.
In summer 2020, the Chinese poet Fan Xueyi invited us to collaborate with the local community as a team. We developed ideas to vitalize an existing area for local people as well as visitors.
In the tradition of Chinese villages, the stage is an important public space. Commonly used for festivities, the stage has always been in the villagers' lives. Being a space for so many different happenings, the stage is also emotionally important to the locals.
By revitalizing a stage culture we hope to bring back emotions and memories to the local community, combined with the public attributes of contemporary life. We want to give culture and old tradition a platform so they can exist and even grow with the next generations.
The site is an irregular square situated at a crossing of two main roads. The surroundings topography slopes from north to south with a height difference of around one meter. The long rectangular stage is situated carefully to form a bridge between east and west, whilst dividing the site into two areas from north to south. The larger south area offers plenty of space for visitors viewing towards the stage. Six existing willow trees in the north area naturally become the background of the stage. The stage is not only a performance venue but also a bridge connecting the east and west sides, or a pavilion of the village.
Considering the flow of audiences and performers during the performance, the treatments of the east and west ends of the stage are different. The east entrance to the stage marks the main entrance for visitors and distribute them to other directions, while the west entrance is used as a passage for actors without height differences. The path to the stage makes twists and turns at different angles to balance the height differences of the site, which further clarifies the intention of a bridge.
The sun shading net on the top of the stage is supported by 12 independent round steel pillars as a vertical structure. The lightness of the net creates a visual contrast with the brick-concrete stage structure at the bottom.
Red brick stairs The landscape steps are groups of different stairs of the red brick masonry situated on the north side of the site. The playful stairs keep multiple accesses to the lower level and compensate for the height differences from the street level. The stairs from the upper to lower level are combined with a variation of perforated walls which support a backdrop atmosphere and provide wooden surfaced seats under the trees.
House as a methaphorA house made of steel plates is located on the east side of the stage. It marks the entrance to the site. We hope that a seemingly cute house can become a shelter for children in the village, where they can play hide-and-seek and draw graffitiies. This tiny house is a metaphor for the emotion of returning home and evokes childhood memories.
We kept the existing trees as well as facilities like trampolines, slides, and public fitness machines. They will continue to age and root the space in public memory. Fencing the facilities with curved low red brick walls and filling the areas with fine sand formed a child friendly playground.
From the perspective of saving the overall construction cost of the project and considering various aspects, we kept the original ground and repaired the damaged parts with a combination of bricks and pebbles textures.
For the south area, we filled the ground with colored rings as a pattern, where children can organize games and graffiti inside the ring to stimulate different kinds of interactivity, including a grid for dance positions.
Redbrick is used as the main material throughout the design, including a variety of masonry patterns, as well as the combination of red brick, grey brick, porcelain brick and concrete. The materiality that appears in the village has its diversity and contingency, which inspired us to apply it to the current practice.
Finally, we would like to thank for the help and support of Gaoliying Town Yicun Village!