From village to “Village”

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Zou, Yujie (Jason)
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Byrd, Hugh
Foote, Hamish
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Kunming, Yunan Province, China
rural migrant workers
migrant workers
urban villages
migrant housing
Chuang Fan village (Kunming, China)
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Zou, Y. J. (2018). From village to "Village". An unpublished research project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional) Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland,New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION: How can the existing houses in the urban villages be upgraded in order to improve the living conditions and upward social movement of migrant workers in Chinese cities? This project investigates the remodeling and upgrading of existing ‘urban villages’ to improve the living conditions of rural migrant workers in Chinese cities. Urban villages are high density, sub-standard housing specifically built within cities for migrant workers who come in from rural areas to earn cash. The workers have limited rights within cities and are exploited for their cheap labour, have little or no choice for accommodation and face discrimination from the permanent urban residents. Typically, each room will accommodate 5 to 10 people, cooking is done in the corridors and there are inadequate sanitary facilities. There are issues of fire escape, ventilation and daylight, and there are no common areas or spaces within the buildings to allow any form of recreation or other activities. In short, the rural migrants have little dignity in these so-called ‘villages’. The purpose of this research and design is to improve the living standards of the migrants by altering the existing buildings. It would be unrealistic to assume that new housing could be built for them as neither the government or private landlords would invest in such a project. The proposed design takes the opposite approach by maintaining the existing structure and involving the creation of additional common areas, introducing new circulation routes and areas for micro-enterprise, including food courts, internet cafés, workshops, and other spaces that have communal use. The selected site is a typical urban village in the city of Kunming, of which a small area was chosen and investigated for structure, circulation, construction and materials. The proposed design improves the natural lighting, ventilation and landscaping and takes it to another level. The aim of the design is to reintroduce aspects of the village culture of rural areas into the city, create a transit area to help the migrant workers adopt the city life and increase their quality of life, and, as a result, promote upward social mobility.
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