Critical regionalism and abstraction: Nanjing Yaxi Citta-Slow Village
This new tourism village is the primary accommodation and activity hub of China’s first Citta-Slow. Citta-Slow is a movement founded in Italy in 1999. Citta-Slow’s goals include improving the quality of life by learning from traditional living, working, and learning patterns.
The movement seeks to resist the homogenisation and globalisation of culture around the world, protect the environment, promote cultural diversity, cultivate the uniqueness of places and provide inspiration for healthier lifestyles.
The Citta-Slow district is located in the rural municipality of Gaochun near the city of Nanjing. This new village is the first of a number of sensitive and responsive developments aimed at sustaining the rural population through the development of tourism. This new village seeks to provide the basis for the emergence of a complex living, working community, not simply a commercial theme park with hotels. The majority of its fifty buildings are designed with flexible ground floor use and spaces suitable for living above. Initial programmatic initiatives are organised in clusters and include: children’s programs; art programs; craft programs; produce related programs; and conference programs.
The project aims to maintain the human scale typical of the traditional villages of the area. It does not attempt to mimic the architecture of the villages. The buildings are based on a flexible modular system. In order to create unexpected situations in the project, the module has a wedge plan. The module is flexible and ranges from being very solid to very permeable to suit differing programs. Depending on the orientation, the terraces are positioned for sun access, and are sometimes enclosed with walls to allow for drying clothes out of sight.
Single modules sometimes form independent buildings and other times are connected as two, three, four, or more modules. The roofs of each building are modified depending on the building’s program. Some have numerous terraces for commercial leisure and residential programs, others have pitched roofs for hotel, conference, shopping and entertainment programs. The space between the buildings is also part of the modular system, ensuring adequate public space and creating a human scale. The buildings are organized to create diverse space sequences with plazas and streets of different sizes, allowing different uses. This system is extremely flexible, allowing for easy changes of future uses. What is now a cafe or store tomorrow could be a workshop or an apartment.
The landscape is designed to merge with the architecture, literally covering terraces, walls and the spaces between the buildings. The majority of trees in the project are fruit producing. The urban design allows the continuity of the existing landscape structure, with many of the new circulation paths connecting with the existing tea plantation paths in the adjacent hills.