Dutch team turns abandoned Chinese village into an artists’ colony

The government of Jiangxi province in southeast China has completed work on a project to turn an abandoned village into an arts centre.

Everybody left the ancient village of Dafang about 10 years ago to take up better paying work in Shanghai and other urban areas.

The Dafang Creative Village was designed by a team of Dutch consultants, led by Amsterdam-based Next Architects.

The designers worked with a number of Dutch and Chinese artists

They have spent the past two years overseeing the restoration of the village of Dafang as a museum and artists’ colony – repairing buildings, adding a traditional village watchtower and constructing a public hall as well as a museum, a library and studios.

John van de Water, a partner in Next’s Beijing office, commented: "Rural revitalisation is one of China’s key future developments. We believe this asks for the design of balance between old and new, living and visiting, history and future." 

It is one of about 100 rural settlements in the province that have been emptied by urbanisation.

The centre of the village is now taken up with a library, museum and public hall

The provincial government wants to prevent the settlements from disappearing, as they can have historic and cultural value.

Dafang, for example, is more than 900 years old.

The project team included Dutch marketing consultant IVEM, landscape designer Smartland, as well as a number of Chinese and Dutch artists.

Top image: The traditional watchtower has been replaced by a more contemporary design. All images courtesy of Next Architects

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