Cultivating Infrastructure: Towards a Productive Landscape

The extreme climate and public health crisis are urgently reminding us to choose a sustainable lifestyle. Responding to the limited resources, we have to grow our food resiliently. Our team is aspiring to find a humble and long-term design strategy in respect to the agriculture and ecology in the site, as well as the rich history embedded in the Renmin Canal.

The design recognises the idyllic site with great natural condition, and inserts a series of multi-functional agricultural infrastructures through an ‘acupuncture’ strategy. These structures only to meet the needs of agricultural production, but can also functioning to hold activities in leisure agriculture, natural education, music, and other events in the future.

As a result, with the development of the Kaizhou new city, the farmland in the site will continue to grow local crops, ornamental farmland, and fruits, which transforms itself into a productive landscape. Farmers who originally lived here will be able to continue farming here ---- they can keep their lifestyles amid the urban development and have better income. In this light, the protection of the current agricultural condition is not only physical preservation, in social respect, it also aim to empower local farmers, providing employment, education and other development opportunities.

The project draws its inspiration from the aqueduct which is still functioning in the site. The Renmin Canal (Phase Seven) is constructed between 1970-1983, and its irrigation area covers four counties and over 474,318 hectares of farmlands. It exemplifies how the local community, also with external help, managed to build a grand structure to gain resilient against the climate uncertainties.

Representing the traditional agricultural infrastructure, the 19 aqueducts in the site carry the history of collective labour on a grand scale. In contrast, future infrastructure is to be cultivated to serve the site on a human scale. The design pays tribute to the monumental form of the aqueduct with a simple and abstract structural frame, and is embedded in the preserved agricultural landscape with a humble and horizontal posture. Service spaces of various scales and types are fixed into the structural columns in the form of niches. Thus, the serviced space will have maximised flexibility, while its functions and boundaries will be adaptable to future needs.

Collaborated with Yuxin Wu