Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, both professors at the University of Hong Kong, founded RUF in 2006. Their goal is to harness design to “stabilize, reinvigorate, and rebuild” China’s rural populations.
Currently, China is experiencing a mass exodus of population from villages as people move to cities in search of better opportunities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. According to research by Tianjin University, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day.A view of Andong Village’s charitable hospital exterior. (Rural Urban Framework) New houses under construction in Jintai Village following the 2008 earthquake and 2011 landslide. (Rural Urban Framework)
Working closely with the locals, RUF has completed a variety of projects to meet each community’s specific needs, including bridges, schools, hospitals, houses, and even a garbage collection center. To date, RUF has worked in 18 villages to combat the effects urban sprawl and is designing and planning entire villages and prototype housing.
“The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.”Mulan Village school has interlinked open spaces, including playgrounds, outdoor classrooms, teaching gardens, and pocket spaces. A concrete plane, infilled with recycled local brick, defines the edge of the courtyard. (Rural Urban Framework) The Shijia prototype house is used as a women’s shelter and handicraft center for straw-weaving. (Rural Urban Framework)
The Curry Stone Design Prize, founded in 2008 to celebrate socially-engaged designers and inspire others to use design, selects winners by consulting social impact experts and humanitarian advocates. RUF will receive a cash prize to aid its mission and projects in China.After interviewing families in the village, RUF created a prototype with four functional courtyards inserted throughout the house to relate to the main functional rooms: kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedrooms. (Rural Urban Framework)
RUF will participate in a panel at the Chicago Architectural Biennial, led by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi on Friday October 2, from 2:30-4pm CST, taking place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater inside the Cultural Center. A short film produced by the Curry Stone Foundation about RUF’s work will also be shown during the panel.