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Back to the sources in Heyang valley
Laureate of the 2nd price



. "Liveable beauty" Contest

. Team with Guillaume Coupez and Constance Varin

. Government of Zhejiang Province

. Wang Shu architect


Heyang Valley, China



Back to the sources in the Heyang valley

After a four-day workshop with students of the China Academy of Art and two weeks of travel in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and the heart of the valley Heyang, we participated in a competition launched in 2015 by the Zhejiang Province Government (East of China) and organized by the architect Wang Shu (Pritzker Prize 2012). The competition was entitled “Beautiful habitat, Outstanding Village Housing Design Contest”. The government’s goal is nowadays to promote new construction standards, to establish a waste collection system, wastewater treatment plants and collective transport.

Local authorities are setting up electrical communication in the villages.  Up to then the urbanization was developing without any regulation. Houses have neither running water nor drinking water.

Furthermore, the Heyang Valley goes through speculations due to the tourism development. Indeed the well-off and middle classes aim to return to a healthy environment and to a familial atmosphere. Unscrupulous promoters multiply heavy transformations of traditional houses into charming hotels: phenomenon involving the expulsion of villagers and disfigurement of the original landscape.

Planning broadly the valley development may prevent ecological and social risks. That is also a solution to revitalize the Heyang Valley: rehabilitation of the existing buildings, sanitization of waterways, highlighting of the landscape, building with local materials, to get a “village-city” of 20,000 inhabitants.


Clear water, rainwater and water from the reservoir are treated thanks to several systems to get as clean water as the different uses require: aquaponics, phytoremediation beddings and water treatment plants are located on the edges of fields and roads, around in the center of houses and at the “village-cities” way-out. The inhabitants are brought to follow the course of the water: enter the building along the visible water, live spaces organized through good quality water corresponding to their needs: maintain their garden which takes part in the ecological treatment of the recovered rainwater.

The households are all composed of one or several patios which bring lighting and cooling. The access to the apartments is from collective passageways which link housing to shops. They are protected from rainwater thanks to an overhang on the roof. That promenade encourages people to take a walk on the different floors open to the landscape with cultivated fields to the East, the water movement and first and foremost meet with neighbors up.


Bamboo, concrete and rammed earth are also linked to water as a natural resource. Their physical properties define the architecture’s morphology, organization and aesthetic. Light and resistant, bamboo is also antifungal, antiseptic and impermeable thanks to lime water. Moreover it is an unlimited resource thanks to its quick growth. Lime water residues take part in composting within each household.


The concrete located in the bedrock leads to ensure a distance with water and the waterproofness of the structure. Rammed earth is the load-bearing material; it brings a natural and efficient insulation and a humidity control. Rammed earth provides also a strong link with the existing and ancestral construction techniques.


Such a development of the villages, in a respectful relationship between human and nature system, will lead to a relief concerning the overloading situation of the surrounding towns. Towns, villages and therefore the all Province of Zhejiang will be sustainable.

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