“Slow practicing”: i progetti di Huang Yinwu nella storica città di Shaxi tra inclusione sociale e cultura materiale
The Shaxi Rehabilitation Project is a comprehensive conservation project in a remote rural area of the Yunnan Province, China. A once important stopover in the mountain area on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Trail, Shaxi still has plenty of built heritage. The architect Huang Yinwu, who studied at the Southeast University of Nanjing, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH) and at the Hong Kong University, worked as a leading project architect in Shaxi for more than 17 years, from 2003. The main topics raised by the case study deal with the local characters and topographical identity in the natural environment, the traditional craftsmanship and the intervention of modern constructions, the design, expressed by identifying and enhancing the value of Shaxi’s cultural heritage and the conservation of cultural legacies into the framework of social and economic development. Shaxi has a strong construction tradition, but it is also very fragile. Unlike the urban area, the traditional rural construction type is a system of experience gradually broadened after ongoing trials and mistakes. This is the reason why it is challenging to have new creations and developments; the same goes for new materials and technologies. For architects like Huang Yinwu, it is necessary to transform the empirical system into a theoretical one, and then provide a reliable construction model that is suitable for local conditions and technologies. In another sense, the key is working with and training local artisans so that they may understand new materials and structures and develop their skills.