A weekly train trip from Shanghai 上海 to Hangzhou 杭州 reveals an interesting and specific form of rural regionalism: the Zhejiang Farmers’ Architectural Style. It takes advantage of rural density, countryside construction culture, prefab architectural farming and combines picturesque with princely architectural ambitions. A report written on the railway tracks.
If we would be asked to sum-up our past experiences in high-speed research during the forty minutes trip in-between Shanghai 上海 and Hangzhou 杭州, we would refer to these as a fantasy world of fumes, factories, coupled with the fear – speeding at 350 km/h – that it might never end (June, 2011) or that we live in a world, in a bullet train that mixes brains, buildings, blood, concrete, fire and comedy (March, 2011). This time around we’re advocating the future of farmers’ architecture, we’re broadcasting a dense, linear experience of an architecture that is just out there doing things: transforming little castles, waterways and highways.
Some of it is abandoned, or even ancient, and some, while speeding by, could be labeled as agrarian avant-garde.
Its gardens, glass houses and fields promise productivity.
Their scale is something of a mystery, so is its very specific architectural style. They are quite fat, plump, or lean and lost while aping each other. Reproduction by proxy?
Are these farmers’ fantasies a footnote in a yet to be written book about China’s urban state?
Pictures by movingcities.org