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Collective Forms
in China

The history of Chinese city planning follows a cellular logic of development, growth and control. In this logic, the changing ideas of collectivity and autonomy are embodied in both socio-philosophical and spatial terms through repetitive modular units – collective forms. In its essence, the collective form actualises the choreography of everyday life and it hinges on clearly defined social ties.
The urban danwei, rural people’s commune in recent history and the traditional courtyard house are collective forms that dominated both social and spatial organisations of their times. Laying the foundations on today’s urban and rural China, their impacts are still visible and real.

Historical settlements in Beijing like Batasi [the White Pagoda Temple] are often seen as enclaves, disconnected from their rapidly changing contexts and lacking the sense of aliveness. The fall of historical form and the alienated everyday life embedded in it reveal the dilemma of historical settlements in China’s urban development today. Revisiting the legacy of Baitasi through the lens of collective forms gives us a new perspective to rethink the issue of regeneration.
Through narratives drawings, this exhibition is aimed to tell a story of how people have lived and worked in danwei and people’s commune as well as the relation between everyday life and space. Examining the rise and fall of these two distinct historical models is to understand what collective forms mean to both the society and individuals, thus to rediscover opportunities of regeneration from the deep logic of social and spatial organisations in China.

Architectural Association Visiting School – Wuhan

Sept. 23rd – Oct. 7th

The Global School / Marketplace / 52 Gongmenkou Dongcha

AA