Year | 2013
Location | Guang Fu, Youngnian, Handan, Hebei, China
GuangFutures began with a field trip to the ancient city of GuangFu, birthplace of Tai Chi, in the Northern province of Hebei, China. This gave four members of the group, assisted by Hui Shi who is a Chinese speaking alumni of the School, an opportunity to conduct field work and act as ‘forensic Tourists’. On return to the UK the team was joined by additional members who began to amalgamate analysis carried out on site and conduct wider research. From this research and our conversations with collaborators, it became apparent that the best way to disseminate our ideas would be through an online resource.
The focus was placed on the development of GuangFu, considering both the current Masterplan that has been put in place and the impact of tourism. The City already attracts some local tourists, and the Government is keen to expand this aspect of the economy. Our work examines how this growth can occur in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner, looking at a number of strategies. Firstly, three models of tourism are suggested; hospitality, ecological and arts & crafts, with timelines from 2013 – 2040 including varying scales of intervention. Public Space is then analysed, with strategies for core areas, water spaces and interstitial points. Other proposals more overtly focus on sustainability, with a fresh water city, urban agriculture and working with existing typologies being proposed.
The group worked in collaboration with Hawkins/Brown, a well known practice with offices in China, who were able to introduce us to key contacts and give us valuable insight into the social, political and economic context that we were operating in. Alongside this, we consulted with the Chinese Community in Sheffield, carrying out participatory events to learn more about China and the experience of tourists. It is hoped these collaborations will allow the project to have a legacy, contributing to the debate about practicing remotely and ultimately with some of these ideas becoming reality.
This project has generated a huge number of learning outcomes, providing many challenges that the team were able to convert into opportunities. Although working in a bilingual context can prove difficult, in this project it has allowed our work to have a bilingual output, therfore greatly expanding the reach. The creative identification of stakeholders in the UK meant that we have gained experience facilitating participatory design workshops despite working remotely from our project site. Overall, the project has been a great generator of ideas and an ideal platform for developing a deeper understanding of a culture different to our own.