Interdisciplinary workshop exhibits outcome in Shuangta area exploring heritage and community

12 Jul 2021

On July 4, the one-week interdisciplinary workshop focused on exploring the heritage and community of Shuangta (Twin Pagodas) has come to an end and has set up an outcome exhibition at Shuangta Market, Twin Pagodas and Shuangta Garden.

Collaborating with the Suzhou Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management Institute (SCI), the Shuangta Market and Wudu Think Tank, the workshop is an initiative of the Design School to sustain the longstanding engagement of XJTLU communities with the wealth of cultural heritage in Suzhou, especially the interdisciplinary and multiple perspectives of the architectural and urban history of the Shuangta Area, and the everyday life within this historic area.

Under the theme of “Heritage and Community”, it invites students to explore the cumulative histories of the Twin Pagodas and its urban context with innovative ideas to interact with this historic site.

More than 40 tutors and students from the Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University and Tongji University participated in this workshop. During the week, different groups of tutors and students have the chance to learn, record, research, and gain in-depth experience on the rich history and heritage of this community and everyday life in the Shuangta area.

A variety of ideas for rediscovery or creative interaction with residents were put into action, and design interventions were introduced. This exhibition is a representation of the thematic studies conducted by the students during the workshop.

Theme 1: Passing Through Shuangta

Tutor: David Vardy (ARC), Jianxuan Wang (ARC)

Members: Hejing Yuan, Yang Zhang, Kaihang Chen, Qian Fan

We work with an assumption that Shuangta is a place where layers have built up over time, such that through a method of creative subtraction— through making or re-establishing cuts, holes, apertures, and excisions— that new connections, understandings and memories can be formed. With the use of light projection, we overlay a new layer so as to reveal an old layer.

Theme 2: "Humanising Heritage" The Shuangta Pagodas

Tutor: Vicente Esteban (IND)

Members: Weizhen Shen, Jiaying Ni, Baijun Wang, Yuliang Wang, Yumeng Wang

This is a social engagement project aiming to "Humanising the Pagodas" through co-designing with the local community through methodologies of public participation. Testimonies, stories, drawings, etc., become the material for exhibiting the community engagement around Shuangta's heritage.

Theme 3: Mapping Places and Perceptions of Shuangta

Tutor: Yiwen Wang (UPD), Mengchuan Liu (UPD), Jiayi Li (UPD), Feiran Huang (Tonji), Mohammed Lawal Shaibu (UPD)

Members: Zhongyan Zhang, Qiyue Chen, Yiting Hsieh, Siqi Zhao, Jingyu Gou

Following the government initiative to transform traditional wet markets, the regenerated Shuangta Market has become an important “place” where tourists encounter the local communities and glimpse into Suzhou lifestyle and specialities. We conduct interviews with the stall owners, customers and tourists at the market to identify places of community interest. A 1/200 scale model/panel and a graffiti wall were created to visualise the social interactions and places of the Shuangta community and crowdsource further written or pictorial comments on the impression and perception of Shuagnta.

Theme 4: Re-weaving Shuangta

Tutor: Claudia Westermann (ARC), Deng Siqi (ARC)

Members: Zijian Qin, Yuecheng Yao, Sirui Wang, Huanyue Gao

Re-weaving Shuangta looks at the potentialities of weaving as a spatial practice. We have collected stories from the Shuangta community — on its social life and what it means to live with heritage. The work installed in the park close to the Twin Pagodas is woven with diverse sticks, strings and strips, integrating the collected stories, as well as image and audio materials. Open for participation, the residents may still add new stories to the work.

Theme 5: Staging Shuangta—Structural Reading and Analogical Participation

Tutors: Adam Brillhart (ARC), Jie Zhang (Tongji)

Members: Yiyuan Xu, Yujuan Liu, Yongqi Zhan, Xiaofei Han, Shangxuan Yang

This program aims to bridge the gap between subjective participation and objective analysis, transforming logical studying into intuitive acting. In this regard, the program includes two parts:

• Structural reading on the historical district of Shuangta Area, understanding how primary elements and dwelling area participate in the formation of this area via morphological and typological studies

• Analogical participation in the historical district of Shuangta Area, picking up a role related to the former study and creating an analogical image of Shuangta Area

Theme 6: Visualisation of Historical Urban Landscape in Shuangta Area

Tutors: Yiping Dong (ARC), Cheng Zhang (CEN), Jing Wen (Tongji), Zaozao Wang (UPD), Hong Huang (CEN)

Members: Mingyang Tang, Yuanyuan Qiu, Xiaolin Zhou, Wentao Yang, Yiyang Du, Yi Wu

This is a historical research about the deep multiple histories of Twin Pagodas as the historic landmark, religious site, and the core for a residential community. The research will look into the architecture with 3D scanning data and layers of the urban fabric with historical maps, the written resources, and the local residents' memory to represent the richness of this historical urban landscape.
We endeavour to present the visualization of the Twin Pagodas at various historical eras so as to define what is the recognition boundary of Twin Pagodas through history.

Story provided by Design School

Edited by Yi Qian

Photos by Yi Qian

12 Jul 2021