Tangkou Town, located in the central of Kaiping City, Guangdong Province. It is a well-known hometown of overseas Chinese, blockhouse, Quyi and a professional town of provincial blockhouse tourism. In recent years, Tangkou Town has experienced the renewal of the village. After the “three cleansings, three demolitions and three renovations”, the space in the village has changed. The public toilets of Zuzhai village have been rebuilt by the hope of making the village full of life, realizing the renewal and modernization of the village, while retaining the memory and respect for the past.
Rebirth of original address：
In rural areas with relatively backward infrastructure, not every household has its own toilet. The public toilet in the village is a “public building”. Because of its own functional properties, no one is willing to face it every day. Convenience of use (publicity) and concealment of sight are two contradictory qualities in the “public toilet”.
In the process of scheme design, the contradiction between publicity and concealment is the biggest challenge and opportunity that architects are facing. They hope to strengthen the publicity of public toilet building, let it bear the role of more villagers’ public living space, weaken its original single attribute, and make it more integrated with the form and color of the whole building enter the surrounding environment.
Based on this design goal, the architect introduced two elements – landscape steps and the semicircle wall. The landscape steps and viewing platform are similar to landscape treatment, which hide the function of the whole public toilet under the viewing platform. So the steps are facing to the houses to cancel the facade which divided the village. For assort with the surrounding landscape, the increased public area becomes the resting place for villagers. Through this method, the impression of general public toilets will be reversed. Due to the public toilets can be used as public facilities for residents to rest, the adverse impact on the natural environment will be weakened. Therefore, the public toilets will be built into infrastructure with both public service functions and entertainment functions.
The semicircle wall is another element to realize the landscape of the building. In the design site, there is a century-old mango tree. We hope it will also be included in the scope of the design to become part of the public toilet. The semicircle wall surrounds the tree form together as the side yard of the building. The semicircle is the symbol of the courtyard in design. Three semicircles and three trees formed three courtyards in the building. The semicircle wall and opening blur the boundary of the building and turn to the transition between the indoor space and the surrounding outdoor landscape.
Choosing the original site for reconstruction means that new functions need to be realized under the condition of the original site, which is a challenge as well as an interesting attempt. When the old building is demolished, the new building carries its original functions and is endowed with more meanings and functions in line with the modern lifestyle, which is a kind of “rural renewal”. The contradiction between publicity and concealment is a proposition throughout the design. The publicity and landscape of public toilets is an answer to this proposition.
After the “three cleanings, three removals and three renovations”, Zuzhai village has demolished eight mu spcae to development and many waste building materials have been produced. Among these materials, there are many bluestones, ammonia water and small green bricks with Kaiping local characteristics. Architects hope to reuse these old materials to let them reborn.
The first point that the architect thought of was to create a new modulus and order, and it was necessary to design a new material with module to rebuild it. The solution is to use these old bricks to make a bigger block – the old material cage: use the old bricks to fill the entire wire cage, then use these identical wire cages for masonry. This approach allows the bricks and tiles in the cage to be organized in an extremely free. Even cages, old teapots, and other villagers’ daily necessities are placed in the cage to incorporating memories and details into the design.
The wall is made up of a total of eight layers of blocks, and the weight of the blocks located in different layers is different. The blocks that are located further down need to bear more weight. The entire wall construction process follows this rule. Completely solid bricks and slabs are placed on the bottom floor as a load bearing, and the cage inside the bottom floor is dense and filled with no gaps. The upper cage uses more special materials such as tiles, broken bricks, and old teapots in the material. It also uses more hollow out and making the brick wall more transparent.
The rebirth of materials is another sub proposition. We try to realize the connection between new and old buildings through the reuse of materials. We hope to put the old materials into the new building in a fragmented form so that the entire site can still find some ordinary and moving details about the old-time after the update.
Project category: Public Project
Entrant name: Atelier cnS & South China University of Technology
Role of the entrant in the project: Designer
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Design Director：Gang Song, Guanqiu Zhong, Zhiyuan Zhu
Design Team：Hairui Lin, Ruibo Li，Zhongjing Xu，Tao Hu（intern）
Design unit：Atelier cnS/ South China University of Technology
Construction unit: Dongguan Huichun municipal landscape Engineering Co., Ltd
Construction Supervision:Xianggang Chun
Project location: Zuzhai village, Tangkou Town, Kaiping, Guangdong Province, China
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2019