Walkway bridge to ease urbanisation process in rural China
The extreme and rapid urbanisation in China, though definitely positive from an economical point of view, can have negative effect on the countryside as well, mainly on local cultural heritage and social life. Through building highways in order to connect villages with metropolises, urban lifestyle becomes more and more tangible in rural areas as well, leading to a kind of identity crisis. Areas hanging between the busy cosmopolitan and the traditional agrarian lifestyle slowly start losing their character, not quite able to identify with either mode.
The city of Foshan is sitting in an area deeply influenced by this issue, that became so much tangible that the local government initiated collaboration with architects to find alternative ways for conserving local vernacular and to facilitate maintaining the village network. The result with their common project with Adarc Associates is a walkway bridge, hanging above Heyue Road, connecting surrounding villages in a safe, convenient, and accessible manner. The bridge aims at conserving traditional village culture both regarding its function and its shape. The main building material is wood, preserving the rural charm of the surroundings and maintaining an organic quality in the midst of urban growth relying on concrete, steel and stone.
The form is surprisingly contemporary, taking a slight nod to the modernisation process, keeping the harmony of old and new present throughout the whole city. For maximum flexibility in style, the shape is kept minimal, while the silhouette is an abstract form of the traditional eave of the local Lingnan houses. The result is a balanced, airy, yet modern structure, that sits in perfect harmony with the surrounding peaceful villages.
Moving away from the physical properties, one also must mention the social function of the footway, that connects people who were separated by the road, giving space for local communities to flourish together. The bridge itself was designed to be a social place as well, inviting passers-by for gatherings, talks, and communal events.
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