Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Jongwan Kwon

Second Advisor

Markus Berger

Third Advisor

Julia Bernert


Villages besieged by urban sprawl have been isolated and forgotten, broken from urban texture and social relationships. However, this kind of encirclement has no clear boundary and is entirely permeable. Infiltration and overflowing occur on various scales. On the urban scale, the old villages gradually abandoned the agricultural lifestyle and connected with the new industrial city. On the architectural scale, urban villages attempt to integrate with cities by imitating the urban façade wherever they come into contact along the fluid boundary. Some warehouses, small plants, and small workshops have appeared in urban villages. On the human scale, people's lives overflow from indoors to outdoors, into public space.

The village in the city and the amorphous culture it supports are negative in the eyes of the government, standing in the way of urban construction. It is the goal of local authorities to purge these communities in order to achieve unified management in urban governance. However, the bottom-up structures and installations overflowing in the public realm within the urban villages are a manifestation of pragmatism-oriented anarchy. In this 被遗忘的城市飞地 "forgotten urban enclave,” it is precise because of this "forgetting" that a community ecology full of life wisdom and vitality has been born: this is what a standardized city lacks. Is the current model of erasing the urban village and replacing it with a standardized urban fabric the optimal solution? Can a new urban model be proposed in a ruralized way based on retaining the original village texture and memory through adaptive reuse?

This thesis uses an ordinary urban village, Hongxin Village in Ningbo, an ordinary city in southeastern China, as a research sample and explores this question. In this typical urban village, the buildings, materials, and furniture in the space show the spontaneous appropriation, tampering, and renewal of the area since the city subsumed the village’s original mode of being. New spatial intervention methods respect the mutual ownership principles of the village and create a framework for the growth of neighborhood life; the framework will continue to use appropriation, tampering, and renewal of working methods to improve local life while preserving traditions of the village and creating more collective memories.


View exhibition online: Chen Zhang, Overflowing Boundary - Competition and Mutualism in Urban Villages



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