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Splintered cultural centre aims to bring aesthetic rejuvenation to rural China

When Chinese architect Atelier Xi received a commission to design a small cultural centre for the remote, rural county of Xiuwu in the central Chinese province of Henan, it responded with an unexpected proposal.

Even though the centre was to be just 300 sq m in area, Atelier Xi thought it would be better to break it up into seven separate, enigmatic structures and spread them around the county’s large area so that it could have a wider impact on the sparse population.

“The long-term drawbacks of remote rural areas include insufficient educational resources, inadequate information access and scant aesthetic imagination,” Atelier Xi writes, announcing the completion of the first of these mini-pavilions, called the “Peach Hut”.

“Through these minimal architecture investments, the project aims to inspire sensibilities of local residents, to help them enjoy and rethink life quality, as well as to alleviate isolation and poverty,” the architect said.

Now open to the public, Peach Hut is a communal space cast in pink concrete and set in a field of blossoming peach trees whose leaning trunks inspired the hut’s form. Big irregular windows give visitors panoramic views of the surrounding farmland.

Among the six other mini-pavilions planned are a theatre called Periscope, a drinks bar called Observatory and a communal library called Bent House.

Like the Peach Hut, their settings will be thought-provoking, including a forest, a mountaintop, and an abandoned village. Atelier Xi says the theatre will float on water.

Images courtesy of Atelier Xi/Zhang Chao

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