In a project that aims to attract China’s farmers back to the rural landscape and address the ecological and social problems that are a result of China’s rapid urbanization, a team of teachers and students from four Chinese universities–Central Academy of Fine Arts, Taiyuan University of Technology, Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, and Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology–are renovating a number of traditional “soil house caves” in two west China villages; Baishe Village in Sanyuan County, and Hengpo Village in Panyao County. The renovated, folk art-decorated homes feature new additions that improve the quality of life for the inhabitants: they are easily constructed from inexpensive materials; they are naturally well-insulated against noise and changes in temperature; and they are fitted with ecological sanitation and plumbing systems, solar panels, and simple electrical appliances. In December, this highly innovative social design project took home a 2014 Best Design trophy in Taiwan’s Golden Pin Design Award.
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