NEXT architects_Dafang

Holland Dafang Creative Village

Revitalising the countryside

Holland Dafang Creative Village brings new life to the ancient rural village of Dafang in China. Chinese and Dutch culture and creativity are combined to create a unique hotspot for arts and crafts, and thereby repurpose historical and cultural heritage. Dafang restores the recognition and relevance of Chinese rural culture by creating a vibrant and creative environment frequented by artists and visitors on a daily basis. NEXT architects was responsible for the master plan, architecture, and interior.
  • Info
  • Team
  • Collaborators
  • Awards

John van de Water, Jiang Xiaofei with Gao Shuang, Kuang Wenhui, Shen Xue, Liu Wenya, Sun Yi, Lu Xiaorui, Zhu Juncheng, Zhang Chi, Ren Wanting en Yue Haiting

IVEM, Smartland architects, Total Design and Linda Vlassenrood

Dezeen Awards 2021 / Longlisted

Exploring cultural heritage

China has undergone an unprecedented urbanisation process, from being a predominantly rural society to having an estimated one billion Chinese living in cities in 2050. Urban migration has left hundreds of thousands of villages abandoned. Many of these rural villages are enriched with decades of social, cultural, and monumental heritage, but are currently lacking major future significance.

To repurpose Dafang’s heritage, NEXT architects has designed an attractive and flexible space for Dutch and Chinese artists. The entire village, including the architecture and landscape, once again becomes an interactive and creative environment that is constantly in motion. The new generation of visitors and residents make an important contribution to the revitalization and revaluation of the Chinese countryside.

Connecting Dutch and Chinese culture

Holland Dafang Creative Village aims to bring Dutch and Chinese artists together in a place where they can work, communicate, and exhibit. Several new facilities, such as a museum, library, and artist studio, bring new life, creativity, and appeal to the village. Artists from both cultures are invited to respond to the village structure and add, change, or transform elements.

Creating architectural diaglogue

The design focuses on the dialogue between old and new elements. The already existing urban spaces, architecture, and landscape have been renovated, where possible, with new materials. For example, glass roof tiles have been used to restore the roofs of the original houses and the irrigation system has been restored with the addition of elements such as a natural halophyte filter to clean the water.

In addition, a new watchtower and public hall have been realized; these are new constructions that make reference to the historic buildings of the site. The original watchtower of Dafang has been long gone, but a new watchtower rises in the same place. The two intertwining routes embrace each other, loosely resembling a giant Chinese ‘dragon column’. The new public hall has been constructed in the middle of the village, on the former site of a courtyard building that was destroyed during the cultural revolution. The inspiration and shape for the hall’s unique roof come from a centuries-old camphor tree that stands just outside the village. The high canopy of this tree was a meeting place for the villagers for decades. In the openings of the terracotta roof tiles, produced by a local craftsman, native birds can nest.

7 images
Do you like our work?
Contact for inquiries