The Jinwen Railway Line was the first railway line to connect Wenzhou, through the mountainous region of Zhejiang, to the plains of Jinhua, the Yangtze River delta, and the rest of China in the early 1990’s when the private entrepreneurs driven economy of Wenzhou was flourishing. It has been a critical infrastructure in the recent Wenzhou economic miracle of the last forty years. Both as an agent in developing the local business and as an index of a partially privately funded project, denoting the importance of private entrepreneurship in Wenzhou. On an urban scale, the train line organized the development along the east-west axis, from the Wenzhou harbor and airport on the west to the new Wenzhou South Station in the east. But the development of high-speed trains during the last ten years and light rail over the previous five years has made the Jinwen train line redundant both at regional and urban scales. As the traffic has tremendously reduced, the west portion of the line has already decommissioned and is currently being demolished. Following the work of land artist Robert Smithson on Paissac in the outskirts of Jersey City, our research is trying to look at the landscape and urban transformations in Wenzhou urban fringes around the train line from its rural and agricultural environment to its urban condition. And the impact the train line had on the built environment both at local and at the regional scale. Beyond this tentative entropology (to use the term coined by Levi-Strauss, made of the words “entropy” and “anthropology” to signify the disruptive impact of man on its environment), our project explores the train line’s cultural, historical, and urban significance in Wenzhou’s recent history in order to question the relevance of qualifying the train line and its landscape as heritage, and in that case, how could this linear space be adapted.
Vincent Peu Duvallon is Assistant-Professor of Architecture and Executive Director of the School of Public Architecture at Wenzhou-Kean University. He received his professional degree at the ESA in Paris, France, and studied at the University of Hong Kong and the Ecole d’Architecture de Versailles in France. In Paris, he did his apprenticeship with two leading international architects, Christian de Portzamparc and Frederic Borel.
He has maintained an active professional practice in Asia with built works in Korea and China for the last decade. His work in Wenzhou and Shanghai has been recognized for adapting antiquated factories into new mixed-use facilities as a part of a revitalization project in both cities. He has lectured about his work in China, Italy, France, and the United States and has served as a visiting faculty member at several architecture schools in France. His research focuses on contemporary vernacular environments and landscapes, particularly in the Wenzhou area, south of Zhejiang.
In 2017 he co-founded with graphic designer Yaoyao Huang the cross-disciplinary design firm Oncetudio working on interior design, furniture design, and architecture design.
Xiaotong Shi started studying architecture at the School of Public Architecture at Michael Graves College in the fall of 2018. She has a strong interest in architecture and is willing to learn, expand and improve professional knowledge and new things in various ways. Participating in various lectures and projects and following professors to conduct on-site investigation and practice also brought her a new understanding and interest in architecture. She followed her professor to study the traditional villages of Wenzhou and had an in-depth understanding of the facades of Wenzhou’s traditional buildings. In addition, she also studied the influence of the Wenruitang River, which runs through Wenzhou, on the city. She takes an active part in various activities, like the design competition of Wangzhai Village and public toilet, INM and Workshop Day Design Competition and Student Research Day. In the fall of 2020, because of her interest in history and the impact of infrastructure on the city and its monumental significance, she participated in the research of the Jinwen Railway.
Jiayin Yang started studying architecture at the School of Public Architecture at Michael Graves College in the fall of 2018. She has a strong interest in architecture and cities and likes to visit and compare buildings in different regions and environments. She joined AIAS and went to Kean University, New Jersey, USA for exchange activities in the 2020 spring and summer semester. During the exchange, she independently inspected cities and buildings in the eastern United States and participated in the exchange activities organized by AIAS with the New Jersey Institute of Technology. In her studio project, she studied Wangzhai Village, a traditional village in Wenzhou, while preserving the original layout of the village and the original structure of the house, it will be transformed and updated, and new functions will be added to renew the village based on respecting the surrounding environment and original functions. During her studies, she participated extensively in extracurricular activities and participated in the design competition of Wangzhai Village. In the fall of 2020, because of her interest in the past and future of the city, she participated in the research of the Jinwen Railway.
Lihong Xing has been studying architecture at the School of Public Architecture, Michael Graves College since Fall 2018. During her studies, she participated extensively in and extracurricular projects and various competitions. As an architecture student, she has a keen interest in the local humanities and environment in Wenzhou. In the course of the studio, she participated in the research on the architectural structure of the Wenzhou Wangzhai Project in the first year, and set out to explore the natural environment and humanity of Wenzhou Sanyang Wetland. She actively participated in various compotitions both inside and outside the school, such as the competition on “Architecture, Culture and Agriculture” and the competition of “WKU Main Gate Design”, and won several awards in the competitions of these teams. Last year, due to her interest in Wenzhou’s customs, natural environment and urban texture, she participated in the research and renovation of the Jinwen Railway.