The Taiping Bridge Project was a two-year reconstruction and surface renovation project of a historic 300 year-old bridge in Guizhou Province. Led by students and professors at The University of Hong Kong in collaboration with Chongqing University, the project addresses the sustainable development and rapid urbanization of rural Chinese villages. Damaged by flooding in 2005, this Tang Dynasty bridge historically served as a junction between twoneighbouring villages and as space for commercial activities to take place. However along with disrepair, the bridge faced another issue. Construction of a nearby highway pulled away not only traffic, but also local significance from the site.
The project attempted to reconcile the long history of the existing masonry construction with modern techniques using pre-cast concrete. Pre-cast concrete was used to rebuild the arch as well as pave the bridge. Bridge pavers were custom designed in collaboration with local industry in order to create planters at various scales as well as seating. In this way the bridge was re-programmed as a public space. Volunteers and villagers planted the bridge with a combination of donated plants and wild varieties sourced from the surrounding mountains.
What began as an issue of repairing a physical connector soon expanded to encompass a larger issue of historic connection between past and present. A major challenge of this project was revitalizing the bridge as a place of historic importance within a modern village context. As village areas in China undergo dynamic changes, the question is whether it is possible to mediate between the sense of history and the sense of forward development. We believe that by understanding current changes, architectural interventions can foster continuity between what was and what is, while also anticipating what will be.