Survey Team: Jack Yeung Yim, Crystal Hu Juanyi, Zhou Zi Hau, Feng Jia Yu
Tutors: Peter Hasdell, Kuo Jze Yi
Miaoxia village is located in a rural valley near to Shangli historic town and the prefecture level town of Ya’an, two hours west of Chengdu in Sichuan Province. An agricultural valley area adjoining hilly and mountainous areas to the North of Chengdu, the river plains and low lying hills provide good quality subsistence farmland while forestry and related industries are found in the higher hills. This led to the predominance of wooden buildings. The region has a strong Tibetan influence, due to the connecting valleys linking to the Tibetan Plateau in the nearby Garze Autonomous Region. The village was built during the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty by the Yang Family, high ranking military officers in Qing dynasty and their large houses with sophisticated woodcarvings reveals the social status and wealth in the past. The predominance of wooden buildings - some over 150 years old - in the village also witness a (now declining) tradition of wood craftsmanship skills in the area. In an oral history collected in the area, it was discovered that many elderly and local building masters have knowledge of traditional construction processes, details, skills and local material resources that are presently getting lost.
The survey drawings demonstrate the "through type timber frame” (穿斗木結構) structure of the wooden house showing plan, elevation and section that tried to faithfully draw both the physical reality of the houses as well as the spatial and material quality. Some of the older houses have been affected by earthquakes and therefore show a slanted structure and facade. However although these houses were tilted, the structure was still functioning and occupied by the villager.
The Miaoxia Survey Drawings Project undertook the survey of a number of wooden houses in the village during July and August 2017. The survey works were done as a cooperation between 2 students from the School of Design Hong Kong Poly University and 2 students from the Architecture Faculty in Shenzhen University. As part of the WIE Intern process, six weeks were spent on site observation, sketching and production. Followed by two weeks of computer production in Hong Kong. The survey approach was divided in 3 parts: 1. Indoor measuring including all fixed items and some furniture; 2. Outdoor overall structure measuring; and 3. Drone photos to assist with the roof structure and roof elevations. Simple tools was used for measuring e.g. 5m and 50m measure tap, grid paper, hand light and gloves. As well the survey team adopted and developed their own location tools and used villager’s wisdom to custom make a bamboo stick for levelling the roof height and for clearing up spider webs as well as water hose-pipe level systems where needed.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to the Miaoxia villagers for their cooperation, Shangli Social-work Station, WIE Team, with the help of financial support from the SD DGRF, Keswick Foundation, Urban Lab and OWS.