White walls with grey tiles reflecting across the surface of a lake. Gently swaying willows growing along the river. Wild flowers blooming in a confetti of color along the riverbank. These are all cherished childhood memories of my hometown, Nanjing. With the high-paced development of urbanization unfolding in Nanjing, as in many other parts of China, these memories of country villages and farmland are increasingly being replaced by the appearance of industrial campuses, mixed use complexes, and high-rise residential apartments.
Fortunately, with the Nanjing Youth Olympic Game in 2014, planners and government began paying more attention to remaining villages of yesterday with a progressive ecological and environmental perspective shaped by today. Planners converged on a village located at the southeast part of Nanjing, attracting a group of architects, planners, and artists to come together to help develop an ecological village that maintains the historical and cultural appearance of yesterday while operating with the contemporary ecological technologies.
“The renovation of those villages is not to destroy the original things, but to preserve the memory of what is remaining based on history, and to step further,” explained lead planner and designer Zhu Shengxun. The old abandoned industrial building and railroad path was preserved, while some art major college students moved into the industrial building to renovate the space into an art exhibition area. An old water reservoir was also persevered.
Looking back, I now recognize how much the memories of my hometown helped shape me. Similarly, history, culture, and now technology continue to shape my hometown. I believe the planning of this village was quite successful, noticing an increase of visitors during the weekends in Nanjing, and I like to imagine they’ll soon cherish the sights, sounds, and scents of Nanjing tomorrow as I do today.