Echo Chen

MLA I

Extending Material Preservation: A Bridge Festival in a Rural Chinese Valley

Advised by Alex Wall

This project explores the preservation of the covered bridge as heritage in a rural valley of southeastern China. It proposes a form of resiliency for the local community against capitalist development. Covered bridges are a form of cultural heritage that embodies broad social and religious significance. The material conservation of the bridges is challenged by intensifying summer floods, together with the aging, depopulation, and poverty of the rural population.

This design prioritizes the process of culture preservation over material conservation. The preservation of local knowledge and culture practices are the keys to cultivate a continuous and sustainable relationship between village development and bridge preservation. Set in the context after a prospective flood, the design involves the bridge reconstruction process in a two-year bridge festival that encapsulates the meaning of intangible vernacular heritages through a combination of local rituals, food cultures, geomantic knowledge, traditional forestry, and the native hydrology system.

Orthographic drawing of a covered bridge showing framework and facade outlines and stairways on each side and small structures with traditional Chinese roofs on the span, and including a large decorated sign labeled ”Wish Will Note”  Line drawings of figures show  intended use.