Rural Urban Frameword (RUF) is a research and design collaborative that is working to help recover and rebuild villages across China that have been affected by the massive rural-to-urban migrations.
Founded in 2006, the research collaborative uses design strategies to transform the hollowed-out cities and burgeoning urban sprawl created by this exodus. By engaging inhabitants in the design process and integrating with the built and natural environment, RUF has completed successful projects in 18 communities across China. The scale of the projects ranges from small interventions, such as bridge and prototype housing construction, to the post-disaster reconstruction of an entire village.
The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent geopolitical issues of our time, how to deal with the imbalances created by mass migrations. China is currently undergoing a migration of unprecedented scale. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of Chinese lived in rural villages, while today more than half of the population lives in cities. This trend is expected to continue to accelerate under a government plan to move an additional 250 million rural residents into cities by the year 2025. As a result, China is losing approximately 300 villages every day.
“In China and the world, we live in an urban age,” says RUF co-founder John Lin, “but we believe its future course is intertwined with the fate of the rural.” Combining knowledge of rural-urban migration issues with extensive research at the local level, the design team has responded with innovative solutions to reinvigorate communities. These projects include a hospital in Angdong Village, a school in Qinmo Village and an innovative design for new homes and infrastructure in Shijia Village. The Shijia Village project fosters that community’s economic self-reliance with rainwater collection and food drying systems, and an underground biogas system to produce energy for cooking.
RUF’s co-founders, John Lin and Joshua Bolchover, were raised in depopulating cities – Lin in the United States’ Rust Belt, and Bolchover in Manchester – which deeply informs their practice. Born in Taiwan, Lin studied at Cooper Union in New York and taught at the Royal Danish Academy before relocating to Hong Kong. Bolchover was educated at Cambridge and London’s Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and has worked in New York, London and Hong Kong. Lin and Bolchover are on the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong.
In China and the world, we live in an urban age, but we believe its future course is intertwined with the fate of the rural. – John Lin