Da-Ping-Wo Village
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2013 TRAA Taiwan Residential Architecture Award- Special Award for Environmentally Friendly

Location: Hsinchu, Taiwan
Design: June,2006–May,2007
Building: July,2009–September,2011
Site Area: 8638. 86㎡
Subtotal Area: A House 330-460㎡
Concept, Design and Construction

The site of Da Ping Wo Village is situated in the groove between Mount Da Ping Wo and Da Ping River. Two streams of water, a wild creek and an old canal, meander through the land dotted with 60 big trees. This is the first land-development project of Banmu Architects. To realize a modern day village life, we preserve the farm land, old trees, the old canal and bridge, and build 24 houses to form a village that follows the rhythms of nature, and in which the residents appreciate and live by the flow of the seasons.

The wild creek, a natural border, cuts the site into two parts – a village and a farm. A gate, made of recycled railway sleepers, signifies the entrance of the farm, where the residents practice natural farming and share their harvests on open-air stoves to rekindle the ancestral farm life. The wild creek is revitalized using the “neo-natural river reconstruction method” to realign the riverbank with natural materials creating habitats for fish and shrimp. Along the creek, a tree house in a banyan tree and a wooden overpass over water are added to encourage children playing in and with nature, talking to birds and insects on the tree and watching fish and shrimp in the water. We design the farm as a communal facility to introduce residents to a way to live in concert with nature.

Being an local landmark, a large old banyan tree on the edge of the site becomes the logical place for the village gate. Beyond the gate, a brick wall leads to the community hall, where community gatherings and festivities take place. At night, the village statue, emitting light, serves as the beacon of the village, as well as representing the cooperative and harmonious village life.

Encircled by a footpath, all houses are clustered in the northern part of the land. The footpath starts from the community hall and passes through all 24 houses. It is a green alley where village residents can stroll, meet the neighbors, and chat about life. Dotting along the way are old Chinese hackberry trees, camphor trees, and resting platforms for relaxations or enjoying teatime with friends. The greenery in the village, along with the pear trees in the neighboring farm and the view of Chinese silver grass in the hills, allows village residents to have vivid experiences of the seasons.

According to the 24 seasonal markers in the Chinese farming calendar, each house is named after a seasonal marker. Residents are encouraged to grow flowering trees that fit their seasonal markers so that the plants may blossom during the corresponding time of the year. As the seasons change, plants of each house take turns to bloom, creating an everlasting event of flower-viewing festivity in the village. Each house is designed with a house lamp at the front door. The lampshade depicts four seasonal forms of house trees: spring sprouts, summer flowers, autumn leaves and winter fruits. At dusk, the lamp lights up awaiting residents of the house to return.

The front door of each house is made of natural wood. It is deliberately kept unfinished so that the natural fragrance of the wood is registered as the scent of the house. Every house has a yard with big trees, and a deck where the residents can reach the treetops. Warm southern breezes are welcome into houses through south-facing windows, while cold northern wind is directed away with sloped roofs. We employ environmentally sustainable designs throughout the village: water permeable outdoor pavements and a greywater system for rainwater reuse. A village that cooperates with nature and is in sync with the seasonal rhythms, Da Ping Wo Village exemplifies our attitude towards the environment, as well as our philosophy of design.