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Humanitarian Design
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Photo courtesy Nien Cheng/Atelier-3

Yangliu Village Housing

Hsieh Ying-Chun/Atelier-3

Yangliu Abzhou, Sichuan, China
March 2012

Taiwanese architect and 2011 Curry Stone Prize winner Hsieh Ying-Chun helps a Chinese village rebuild for the better after an earthquake, using local expertise and materials.

By Laura Raskin

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On May 12, 2008, a 7.9-magnitude earthquake rocked the Sichuan Province in Western China, killing 68,000 people. The quake also toppled homes and public buildings that were supposed to withstand such disasters after the devastating 1976 Tangshan earthquake. The Qiang community, an ethnic group in the northwestern part of the province, was one of the hardest hit. In Yangliu Village, many of the houses were destroyed. Others were in the path of a possible landslide. Villagers lived in tents.

By September 2009, Taiwanese architect Hsieh Ying-Chun had helped the agricultural village construct 56 new homes for 350 people. Hsieh runs the 30-person firm Atelier-3 in Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan, and has dedicated his practice to disaster-relief architecture since the 1999 earthquake in Taiwan. In 2011 he was awarded the Curry Stone Design Prize.

Using lightweight steel framing, locally sourced stone, reinforced concrete, and wood, Hsieh taught Yangliu villagers how to assemble homes that are stronger than before. The 3,000-square-foot, three-story dwellings employ similar floor plans: kitchens and bedrooms for elderly relatives on the ground floor, living space and bedrooms on the second floor, and more bedrooms on the third.

Hsieh’s style is the vernacular: he adapts local design and leans on the expertise of area craftspeople but helps them reduce inefficient techniques and the use of hard-to-source materials. His adobe-walled house in China’s Hebei Province, for example, looks nothing like his Tibetan herder settlement housing, which preserved local woodworking techniques. For people whose homes have been destroyed, this reliance on familiar materials and designs is comforting. He is currently at work on reconstruction projects in Taiwan related to the August 2009 Typhoon Morakot.

Design Architect:
Atelier-3
Sun Moon Lake Studio
No. 40, YiDaThao Road
RiYue Village
YuChi Town, NanTou County
Taiwan
+ 886 492850343
Website: www.atelier-3.com

March 2012
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