Sunken Village on the Loess Plateau: The Transformation of Rural Settlement Landscape in Liangjiazhuang Village, Shaanxi Province, China

Authors: Qian LU*, Tsinghua Univeristy, Lu YANG, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Tianyu ZHU, Technical University Munich
Topics: China
Keywords: Liangjiazhuang, the Weibei Dry Plateau, sunken cave dwellings, settlement landscape, the practice of everyday life
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marriott Ballroom Salon 2, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Liangjiazhuang is a single-surname village in Chunhua county, the Weibei Dry Plateau of Shaanxi province, China. It is a most typical re-formed rural settlement on the Loess Plateau, with sunken cave dwellings below ground as the main residential pattern until the 1980s. The research, therefore, focused on the socio-spatial transformation of the settlement landscape in Liangjiazhuang through 1985, 2005 and 2015. Inspired by the theory of the practice of everyday life, qualitative and quantitative descriptions were given for the identities of spatial patterns of the settlement landscape as well as the everyday life of local villagers. Participant observation, surveying and mapping were applied as well as advanced landscape modeling tools. The mechanism of the settlement landscape in Liangjiazhuang was unveiled upon socio-spatial analysis. Different from any traditional vernacular landscape or designed urban landscape, a neo-vernacular landscape type was born with a combined character of the top-down local policy and the bottom-up spatial practice. The environmental factors, the new countryside policy and the market economy were considered as the most dominant driven factors in the transformation of the settlement landscape. Furthermore, the interaction between the transformation of the settlement landscape and the practice of everyday life was discussed. The disappearing process of the sunken cave dwellings in Liangjiazhuang over the past two decades provided a meaningful reference for the regeneration of China's rural settlements.

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