27/12/2020 – Livio Ercoli Invited to Discuss Rural Areas Development at Xianda College of Economics & Humanities

Italy and China can’t be more different, from social, geographical and demographic standpoints, but they are both experiencing similar social and economic issues in rural areas seeing an exponential disproportion between urban and countryside. In Italy 42% of the population lives in the 92% rural territory of the country, where is concentrated the vast majority of abandoned villages. Similarly in China, about half the population of the country lives in rural areas which make up to 94% of the territory. The multiple and complex issues threatening the countryside have generated in recent years a number of strategies, policies and funds from both central governments toward the development of rural areas and villages trying to reduce the gap between cities and countryside and improve the living conditions of the communities in rural villages.

MUDI’s Associate partner Livio Ercoli has been invited to present a lecture at the First Rural Creative Workshop and Art Exhibition of Rural Creation organized by Xianda College of Economics & Humanities to open a discussion regarding rural areas regeneration and development. Born and raised in a small town in the countryside of Pisa, Italy, Livio Ercoli presented a comparison between the government policies of the two countries, Italy and China, towards the development of disadvantaged rural areas and virtuous case studies showing a successful urban and social regeneration.

Among the case studies in China is the regeneration of Shangzhou Village in Zhuhai, a project that MUDI/MLA+ did last year and currently under scrutiny for Planning Bureau approval. Object of the design are the Visitors Center and Community Center facilities located at the East and West entrance of Shangzhou Village. The new facilities are meant to vastly improve the services offered to the community and the visitors, incorporating elements of the local culture and heritage and enhancing the natural countryside landscape. In order to blend into the rural architecture of the village and becoming immediately familiar to the members of the community, the two anchor points are designed with a contemporary use of the architectural elements defining the local architecture style.

The project had the crucial task of offering modern services and public facilities to a small rural village struggling to cope with depopulation and economic difficulties. The risk was to impose on the local community unnecessary urban models and a contemporary architecture that could have felt alien to the locals. The program has instead been carefully tailored on the community’s needs and the architecture is open and welcoming, proudly showing the elegant traits of the local rural heritage.