House of Dreams (Phase II) highlights community participation; together we built the “Path to Transforming Trash into Treasure”

Introduction to the project: House of Dreams (Phase II) is a community-based participatory demonstration project of sustainable architecture in Zhoushan Village, Dengfeng City, Henan Province. The project aims to (1) support the collaboration between the design team of Insitu Project, Henan Community Education Research Center(#1), Dr. Ku Hok-bun(#2), and villagers, in order to improve the constructions and facilities in the village; and (2) empower the community by transforming Zhoushan Village into a research base for “village construction”.
Due to the coronavirus situation, the House of Dreams(Phase II) project was suspended earlier this year. Subsequently, the construction resumed in April. With the strenuous efforts of the teams and villagers, the project has declared a surprising breakthrough.

With an aspiration to recycle and upcycle, the construction crew lead Mr. Yi Rongliang suggested removing the old retaining wall and transforming waste into an “eco-wall”. The idea was warmly welcomed and echoed by the teams and local villagers, leading to a trend of collecting daily and construction waste that swept through the village.

Through close collaboration, the “Path to Transforming Trash into Treasure” – consisting of mainly an eco-wall – was born in June. Standing as a proud new landmark in the village, it also serves as a lively demonstration for promoting ecological education. On June 22, the village-level mutual aid group Changqing Huzhuhui guided villagers from Wangjinzhuang, She County, Hebei Province to visit the new attraction. As a “tour guide”, Mr. Yi Rongliang received great recognition for his vivid explanation of the process of transforming waste into treasure.

Highlight 1: Eco-wall for House of Dreams

By making use of community-collected bricks, tiles, tires, and other construction and daily waste as well as building on the creativity of villagers, the design team, Henan Community Education Research Center, and the construction crew successfully constructed the Eco-wall. It is worth noting that the Chinese characters of “Eco-wall of House of Dreams [Mengli Laojia Shengtai Qiang]” on the wall were constituted of numerous beer bottles, the bottoms of which bear the names of those who have contributed to the project, essentially turning such work into an uplifting “virtue monument”.
Old retaining wall
The teams and villagers discussing the construction details
Villagers getting involved in the building of the Eco-wall
Panorama of the completed Eco-wall
Highlight 2: Eco-friendly Map Wall

The design team suggested turning the other side of the old retaining wall into a “Map Wall”, in the hope to document the types and locations of and the distances between the sources of waste collected by the villagers. Pebbles, abandoned parts of jades as well as daily waste were thus stacked up to compose the Map Wall. The wall displays not only “a map of waste sources”, but also an inspirational quote by the teams (including Henan Community Education Research Center and the construction crew), village-level officials and groups: Let’s go on and witness the miraculous transformation from waste to valuables!
Panorama of the “Eco-friendly Map Wall”

Highlight 3: Natural ginger stone wall(#3)

The stone wall is situated at the entrance to House of Dreams. Built with natural materials gathered by the community (including ginger stones and yellow soil) using completely traditional stacking techniques, the wall never fails to leave a positive impression of rawness and simpleness.

Ginger stones collected by the community
The natural wall made of ginger stones
Highlight 4: A slope neatly decorated with “waste”

Having poured creative efforts into the design, the teams were able to utilise resources such as old tiles, tires, glass bottles, concrete and bluestone slabs to build every section of the slope. During the process, the construction crew also put their imagination to work. For instance, the pre-made plates placed alongside the slope have been filled with drinking bottles which are now the new homes of thriving plants.
The slope decorated with recycled materials such as old tiles, tires and glass bottles
Drinking bottles housing young green plants

For more information about the House of Dreams (Phase II) project, please visit this link.

#1:Henan Community Education Research Center has had its roots in the community of Zhoushan Village for 17 years. Through bringing in the gender lens and major approaches in promoting community education and community organising, they have committed to cultural and “human(ity)” building in the village.

#2:Dr. Ku Hok-bun is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He has experience in social/community work in Zhoushan Village, including developing the “Solidarity Economy”.

#3:Ginger stone is a kind of calcium-formed crystalline substance, the shape of which looks like ginger. Villagers call it “cracked ginger stone”. It is commonly used for stacking up barriers.

Cover image:Panorama of the “Path to Transforming Trash into Treasure”

Source:Henan Community Education Research Center