Vernacular Ingredients

Shizheng Geng, Zoe Wu, & Hua Zheng 

The title of our proposal is Vernacular Ingredients As Urban Components. We asked ourselves a critical question: Can we merge rural villages into a part of the urban system without vastly disturbing its forms, pastoral landscape, and intangible traditions?

With the modernization and industrialization process, the town’s primary economic driver shifts from local vernacular production to company-owned production introduced from elsewhere. It led the rural development into a dilemma: When the area is transforming into urbanities, it is losing its rustic soul. How can modern areas still be rural? It seems a part is missing in the process to re-link intangible heritage under the trend of urbanization.

Regional Plan

Fragment Plan


Therefore we look into the Taishan Record (published in 1897) to seek a forgotten legacy as well as potential vernacular products as an economic driver that has been forgotten in the urbanization process. We found a group of ingredients that surrounds incense making and also can be used for making Chinese medicine. Incense making represents the clanship worshiping tradition that has been long driving oversea Taishan Chinese to contribute their fortune and constructed the Taishan image today. Chinese medicine represents the vernacular wisdom of utilizing and exploring the good of nature.

Those ingredients have the potential to be developed into new industrial chains that enhance the local business and become the economic driver of our scheme and, in the meantime to invite local stakeholders and newcomers to work together. Here we take Chinese Sweetgum as a significant economic driver because it’s productive and multi-functional, which also suited to the soil quality. It will also maintain the inner connection between production and rural cultures like the farmers’ market system, festivals, worship activities, and become the driver for urbanization without losing its vernacular core.