Q-Village · Gangtou International Young Designer Competition is an international competition hosted by Guangzhou Municipal Housing and Urban-Rural Development Bureau and other units in November 2020. Gangtou Village in Huadong Town, Guangzhou, which features unique regional characteristics and huge development potentials, was selected as the site for this Competition. It took “Q-Village • Gangtou” as the theme, centered around enhancing the fun features of rural built spaces on the principle of minimal demolition and re-construction, and renovated traditional buildings to accommodate compatible functions and trades. The Competition intended to solicit creative spatial renovation and trade mix proposals from domestic and international young architects. The competition provided 10 traditional buildings for transformation, and Stefano Corbo Studio from Italy selected traditional building on site 07 as the design scheme.
A 600-year old traditional village in Huadong Town, Huadu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, Gangtou Village covers a total land area of 2.83 km². Facing the south, the village features a typical Cantonese dwelling layout that resembles a comb, which is known as “comb-style layout”. About 20,000㎡ of ancient buildings of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and the Republican Period are well preserved in the village, including private houses, ancestral temples and ancient bridges, making it an “open-air museum of Lingnan architecture”.
Reviving Memory is a proposal aimed to transform a ruin – site no. 7 – into the Gangtou Contemporary Gallery, a multi-functional center for art exhibitions, concerts and other types of public events. The starting point of the project is the existing ruin – a decayed façade of dark bricks which is partially collapsed. Rather than demolishing the existing structure, Reviving Memory uses the ruin as a design vector – by integrating it into a new architectural system, whose shape, layout and dimensions respond to the dialogue with the old.
The old façade is much more than a simple vertical plane. It’s a complex set of hidden geometries, alignments, boundaries. It’s a sequence of small and big openings – windows and doors – which dictate the directionality and the interior of the new project. On site, also, traces of old walls survived. The design of the Gangtou Contemporary Gallery embeds those traces: the footprint of the old building defines the perimeter of the new project.
To respect history doesn’t mean only preservation. Memory can be honored and can revive in many different forms. The old façade is not completed or reduced to unity. It’s left as it is – as a ruin. The area of the façade which collapsed acts as main entry to the Gallery: it is a scar, a break in the wall. When passing through, visitors will celebrate the ancient history of the Gangtou Village and will enter a new dimension. The façade acts as an intermediate layer between the present of the village (exterior) and the future of the building (interior).
At the end of the design process, old and new elements engage in a dynamic dialogue. The old brick ruin is integrated within a concrete-frame structure made of piers and of a system of primary and secondary beams – whose rhythm, again, comes from the repetition of the old windows and doors on the façade. The use of traditional stucco makes the new intervention completely distinct and distinguishable from the old. Although they merge into the same composition, old and new obey two different architectural vocabularies.
In solidifying traces, rebuilding the footprint of the old building, and in reinforcing its boundaries, the Gangtou Contemporary Gallery belongs to the village’s fabric. The Galery is a communal platform open to the city. It’s a free and flexible space, where natural light comes in and creates dramatic light effects. The project is composed of three main elements:
The outdoor patio, which serves as entry / atrium.
The Gallery space – a hypostyle hall capable to accommodate exhibitions and shows. No interior walls are present. Space is fluid and open to multiple possible functions. The height of the space – 5 mt. – allows the display of different artworks: installations, sculptures, performances, etc.
项目地址：中国 广州 港头村
项目设计：Stefano Corbo Studio / Marta Romero
Project Name: Reviving Memory
Project Location: Gangtou Village, Guangzhou, China
Category: Architecture: Culture and Reuse
Design: Stefano Corbo Studio / Marta Romero
Site Area: 500 ㎡
Building Area: 400 ㎡
Client: CBC – China Building Centre
Design period: Fall 2020