Landscape Architecture, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Sep  2019, Pages 83-101; DOI: 10.31058/ 10.31058/

Construction Strategy and Path Choice of “The Beautiful Countryside” Based on Stimulating Internal Viability-Taking the Experiment on Liangzi Lake in Ezhou City, Hubei Province as an Example

, Vol. 2, Issue 3, Sep  2019, Pages 83-101.

DOI: 10.31058/

Yun Ye 1,2,3* , Yingle Xiong 1 , Jing Li 3,4 , Qian Wang 5

1 College of Art, Hubei University, Wuhan, China

2 Rural Construction Research Center, Hubei University, Wuhan, China

3 New Countryside Construction Research Center, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

4 School of Art and Design, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

5 City College, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

Received: 27 May 2019; Accepted: 11 July 2019; Published: 19 August 2019


At present, 90% of the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” in China is unilaterally led by government, and such project productions as a resource input mechanism result in the low participation of villagers. Some part of the construction as well is in the full charge of external capitals for profits, which does little good to the development of rural collective economy, and to the participation of villagers in rural governance. Based on the above, this paper puts forward that the key point of the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” is to stimulate the internal vigor of the village, and it further explores the construction strategy and path choice with the public participation as the core. Moreover, the paper clarifies the new relationship among the government, farmers and social forces, and studies the ways how these pluralistic subjects participate in. It proposes to implement the operation path of system first, industrial security, up-to-date design and landing practice on the basis of construction model of the GSP comprehensive cooperative. New comprehensive “participation” design, “mutual aid” construction methods, and such ideas as “featured design”, “moderate design” and “subtraction design” have been applied into the experiments carried out in Wanxiu Village and Zhangyuan Village located in Liangzi Lake, Hubei Province, so as to explore new ways of endogenous model suitable for rural development in China.


“The Beautiful Countryside”, Endogenous Model, Public Participation, GSP Comprehensive Cooperative

1. Question Raised

Ten years have passed, and there is still a huge realistic gap in rural construction to realize the “beauty” of the countryside from the inside out. The reasons are as follows. On the one hand, farmers’ right to express their opinions is restrained for the related mechanism and system established by government from the macro aspect are not sound. On the other hand, as the traditional village community has disappeared, its organizational and protection functions begin to fail. Farmers as social cells are scattered and undynamic in circulation and cannot be well-organized. Therefore, it is a top priority to break down barriers and stimulate the inner vitality of the countryside.

In the context of resources going to the countryside, the existing construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” is based on the “project system” as a resource input mechanism, which intensifies the division of the villages. Not only does such construction consume a lot of money, but it gets separated from the farmers, and goes farther away from the original intention of the government, failing to gain more public support and political approval. Meanwhile, compared with the "inclusive"projects, a larger number of “preferential” projects have made a few lucky villages a place for capital pooling, but they are hard to promote because of the obvious differences among different villages.[1]

The dislocation of investment entities and the excessive interference of the government have led to the remarkably low and formal participation of farmers in construction. Under the project system “unilaterally-led” by the government, the construction is operated in line with the hierarchical mechanism---the “contracting” of the state department, the "packaging"of the local governments, and the "catching-up"of the villages. Under the leadership of the local government, the design team is entrusted to “send the plan to the countryside”, and then the village cadres organize the construction. From the beginning to the end, the farmers have to passively accept the construction and formally cooperate to complete the work. Lack of subject consciousness, the farmers gradually become inactive to rely on and wait for the government to supply what they need, and therefrom they are unable to develop the economy and control the market.

At the same time, social participation in the construction has been greatly limited due to the government's “unilateral leadership”, in which case, the design and construction process will be subject to their service object---the government in essence. There are a large number of the existing township-level units in China, and each village is quite different from others in the economic development, resource allocation, geographical environment, and leadership, which brings great difficulties to the design team in the implementation of their work. The “point-to-face” design intended by the government is of replicability, but the differences in traditional village types are neglected, resulting in the mass production, in a waste of large amounts of funds therefrom, and even in the damage to traditional villages. Moreover, the single model of participating in the construction lacks the regulations, and the dislocated social capital investment only stays in the financial support. Such “transfusion-type” investment model eventually cannot achieve sustainable development.

The construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” is an interactive process. The driving force for construction comes from the pluralistic subjects:the government-led services, farmers’ participation, and social support. Hence, this is the best idea and countermeasure at present to promote the benign interaction among the government, the farmers and the society and establish their organic coordination and cooperation. With their joint efforts, the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” will be improved.

2. New Ideas for the Construction of “The Beautiful Countryside"

The central government emphasized the “establishment and improvement of the social management pattern--- the leadership of the party committee, the responsibility of the government, social coordination, and public participation”, reflecting its request to shift the model from “unilateral leadership” to “pluralistic coordination”. The construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” must rest on its key point, that is, to coordinate the benign interaction among the government, the farmers and the society. This must start with how to mobilize the enthusiasm of the farmers.

Based on this, the research team proposed that the construction should shift the leadership from the “exogenesis” (i.e. government-led) to the coordination between “exogenesis"and “endogeny"with “endogeny” (i.e. farmers as the main body) as the basis. “Endogeny, a term of economics, is interpreted as the long-term growth rates stimulated by endogenous factors. Such endogenous development will be publicly participated and promoted by the full use of the strength and resources within the region, the respect for its own values and systems, and the exploration of a development path suitable for itself.

The idea of public participatory development is formed in the context of the strong getting stronger, the purpose of which is to let the vulnerable people express their will and benefit from the whole development process. The “public” is a stakeholder of the development. Such pluralistic subjects as villagers, self-governing organizations, local governments, design teams, and construction units all benefit from the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside”. “Participation” is more than “joining in”. “Participation” means that the pluralistic subjects can effectively intervene in the whole process of decision-making, implementation, management, supervision and benefit sharing. They shall pay special attention to vulnerable groups, learn from local residents to understand their willingness to develop, and encourage them to analyze their own dilemmas. Moreoverpower shall be delegated and mobilized, and steps shall be taken to achieve their aspirations for development. Thusthe villagers can gain personal value and social identity in the process of participation, and achieve spiritual satisfaction on the basis of material satisfaction.

The core of participatory development lies in the collective power, shifting the management from “unilateral subject” to “pluralistic subjects” and forming. a flat mechanism. In terms of resources, the available resources are of diversity, including external ones from the community and government, as well as internal ones such as labor, intelligence, and mobility.

In view of the current bottleneck in the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside”, the thought of public participation shall be widely infiltrated. The law of its application in rural construction shall be explored, and the various concrete ways shall be practiced, which will undoubtedly improve the theory and promote the strategy and path of the construction.

3. Construction Experiment of "The Beautiful Countryside"in Liangzi Lake, Ezhou, Hubei

The pilot villages of “The Beautiful Countryside” are Wanxiu and Zhangyuan located in the Liangzi Lake District of Ezhou. Known as the “land of fish and rice” Liangzi Lake District, as the second lake area in Hubei Province, boasts beautiful scenery, well-preserved ecology, colorful culture and industrial resources with great development potential.

From the above, the working path of “system first, industrial security, up-to-date design and landing practice” is proposed based on the construction concept of “The Beautiful Countryside” with public participation. Pilot experiments on the construction of traditional natural ecological villages will adopt the construction method of “one body and two wings”, that is, taking organizational construction as the body, cultural activities and industrial development as the two wings. In this way, the participation of the masses will be driven to expand, the combat effectiveness of grassroots organizations will be enhanced, and the sustainable and independent development capability of the villages will be promoted. Moreover, economic construction shall take the comprehensive cooperatives as its core, in which economic cooperatives are the driving engine and other professional ones are the operating units;the integration of basic resources shall be programmed to achieve the harmony and win-win situation among production, living and ecology;the cultural, social and natural resources of the villages shall be tapped;the design work of the village’s public landscape, and the renovation as well as the construction of its residential houses and public buildings shall be conducted with public participation;finally, all these works will be tested and improved in practice.

3.1. Establishing a Collaborative Mechanism for Public Participation—GSP Comprehensive Cooperative ( Figure 1 )

The basic work of the construction is to establish a village-level comprehensive cooperative, and this is also a collaborative mechanism for building democratic and equal relations among pluralistic subjects. Under the leadership of the government, cooperatives shall be established at all levels with farmers as the main body, and shall be run as business units with social support, plus a series of institutional design to boost collective economy and strengthen the village-level organizational capacity. More importantly, through the establishment of cooperatives, the villagers can be empowered to obtain guaranteed economic returns and attracted to participate in decision-making and construction of the village’s economic industry.[2]

The working group with Li Changping as the core has chaired the establishment of the comprehensive cooperative. With the comprehensive consideration of the villagers’ needs and the economy as well as resources in Zhangyuan Village, it is envisaged to formulate a less risky construction method to support the development of farmers, solve the problem of farmers’ old-age care, and take the built-in finance as the breakthrough point to seek collective welfare in the village. ( Figure 2 ) The income of cooperatives derives from land revenue, loan proceeds and trust benefits. And they are mainly used to support the development of farmers and village collectives, and to establish old-age cooperatives for pension undertakings, which will pay a certain amount of dividends to the elderly at the end of each year. The value of public participation is not oriented in line with the principle that the minority is subordinate to the majority. On the contrary, it protects both the majority and the minority, which is consistent with the GSP system of “The Beautiful Countryside” construction and makes villagers participate in it actively. ( Figure 3 )


Figure 1. Functional diagram of built-in finance cooperatives.


Figure 2. Built-in financial cooperatives organization composition map.


Figure 3. Zhangyuan village’ villagers signing and fingerprinting on the regulations of collectives.

3.2. Building Consensus--Planning and Integrating Resources to Form Industrial Guarantee ( Figure 4 )

The Central Document NO.1 in 2013 and 2014 respectively proposed the construction requirements of “promoting the construction of rural ecological civilization, striving to build “The Beautiful Countryside” as well as building a home for farmers to live a better life through the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside”. In 2015, it further put forward to upgrade rural infrastructure, to equalize urban-rural integration, to improve civilization in rural areas and to build a “beautiful homeland”. In conclusion, rural construction is a significant livelihood project that concerns the vital interests of millions of farmers. In the initial stage of the plan, it is of great importance to seek the common ground and common interests of the public for reaching consensus and determining objectiveness. Migrant workers in cities should be promised the living security when they return to the countryside. Rural areas, as the stabilizer and reservoir of modernization, instead of being eliminated in the process of urbanization, shall be constructed and developed as the happy homeland for farmers. This is the core goal of “The Beautiful Countryside” construction and the consensus of all the participants.

After the systematic survey of the villages and the reposition of resource cognition, the design team combined leisure agriculture, cultural and creative agriculture, urban agriculture with tourism to create a new rural farming culture, in which farmers are transformed into operators or service providers and agriculture into a carrier for urban-rural interaction and consumption, and rural areas into a matching place for services and consumption.

Depending on the unique natural geographical, Wanxiu Village, will develop in accordance with functional position into a “beautiful and ecological countryside” featuring “eco-wetland, the wildness of nature as well as the culture of Liangzi Lake”. Wanxiu Village integrates eco-tourism, leisure vacation, and education on wetland conservation into a travel center for industrial development. Agricultural resources such as wetland, fishery, ecological agriculture shall be tapped, a job of classification and in-depth analysis shall be done, seasonal changes in agricultural production shall be considered, to explore the relationship among farmer’s life, culture and ecology, and fishing culture, bamboo culture, ecological culture and architectural culture in southeastern Hubei province shall be programmed into the construction process. Bamboo culture will be mainly embodied in the planting of a large number of bamboo in the village, the application of the bamboo-made construction and materials, and the use of bamboo-made wares;fishing culture will reconstruct the daily life of the village along Liangzi Lake in those days;ecological culture will emphasize the propaganda of science education, and so as to create a cultural atmosphere of ecologically environmental protection for tourists;architectural culture in southern Hubei province will highlight its traditional residences. Renovations on some old residences to create new landscape should be based on the principle of the preservation of traditional architectural elements and the consideration of villagers’ current living and economic needs.

Figure 4. Scale management diagram of integration rerources.

The understanding of “endogenous” culture and the respect for villagers’ living habits can easily arouse the resonance of villagers and obtain their recognition, further mobilizing their enthusiasm and love for village development.

3.3. Constructing and Participating-New Tasks for Design Team in the Process of Design and Construction

In the process of renovation on residences and landscape, the design team should assist to find stakeholders and clarify the roles and responsibilities of all indispensable parties----government, village committees, villagers, construction parties and research teams. Nevertheless, for maximization of their respective interests, there often exists a continuous game among them. The government often stands in mighty;the villagers lack shortsighted to lack construction awareness;the village committees are mostly nominal;the construction parties keen on benefits, become responsible and skilled when they are satisfied, or do shoddy work and use inferior materials. As a research team, how should they position themselves and what role should they play in the game when faced with such a dilemma?

The core of participatory development is collective strength, which means cooperation, equality and consultation. In practice, team constriction involves many aspects:

First and foremost, it is necessary to be feature-oriented and stimulate the inherent vitality of the village. we can take “featured design and moderate design” as the principle. In the meantime, the principles such as ecological priority, cultural protection, public participation and sustainable development also should be highlighted in the process of planning and implement. Using the five elements--“the rhyme of water, the habitats of birds, the gracefulness of bamboo, the whisper of maple and the dream of lotus”, we can create an ecological environment, establish a “slow” life in the countryside and restore the “new” memory of the village. In the aspect of building renovation, we do not advocate to demolish old buildings and construct new ones in a large scale. The renovation of residences should be given priority as much as possible and some public buildings including book bars, stages and senior centers can be established. In the aspect of architectural design, we should not only preserve the traditional style, but also take into account the needs of villagers to highlight the style of courtyards. In terms of design auditing, the general plan will be examined and verified by experts organized by district and county governments after being approved through collective consultation among the villagers and after full consultation with farmers, experts collected by district and county governments will examine and verify the housing renovation plan;In terms of construction, it is advocated that under the guidance of the design team, the householders can gather farmers to construct by themselves. We can utilize the advanced to promote the backward and organize the transformation of farmers’ houses in the way of stimulating competition.

Secondly, participators in this design are from bottom to up, which can promote the participation rate. According to the intentions of the villagers and the village committees, the design team has formulated a "bottom-up"planning model, which has the effect of drawing and concretizing the villagers’ intentions. In addition, villagers'"participatory"design also promotes the initiative and enthusiasm of the independent participation of villagers. Individual construction model should be established as a demonstration in construction. The whole project started from the reconstruction of No.1 courtyard of Wanxiu village. The team devoted a lot of energy in the design, trying to set a model for the follow-up reconstruction project. In the renovation of facade, the old black brick is used as a decorative material, the outer wall of the building is decorated by the traditional masonry method--san dou yi mian (standing three-layered empty bucket separated by a layer of solid brick wall) and the old black tile is used to build a dark roof at the eaves of the roof, which restores the traditional residential style of white wall, black brick and gray tile in southern China. At the same time, doorways and porches were added to the front of the building, and the wall outside the stairwell was decorated with anti-corrosive wooden grilles, which made the original plain facade change in color and light as well as shade. The renovation cost of more than 100,000 yuan has completed the reconstruction of the building structure and courtyard landscape as well as improved the building’s functions. As soon as the No.1 courtyard started to do business, it attracted a lot of visitors, which stimulated the enthusiasm of other villagers greatly.

Thirdly, from "official design"to “folk design”, we should deal with differences reasonably, reach consensus from compromise, and guide villagers to recognize their real needs. In the initial stage of residential renovation, the design is mainly led by the design team and villagers only provided some construction suggestions, such as housing layout, size, demand and so on. After the renovation of the first 13 residences in Wanxiu Village, some villagers implemented the renovation on their own according to the paradigms. In the light of the requirements of the village committees, the design team also provided atlases including porches, doors, grilles, roofs, window frames and wall skirts for villagers’ reference.

Through the construction experiment of “The Beautiful Countryside” in Liangzi Lake area, the design team has made clear the following ideas:

Firstly, we should identify that the specific way for farmers, as the main body of construction, to realize public participation is to return to the traditional mutual aid construction. To ensure that farmers can actively participate in the design and construction process, on the one hand, we need to have a deep understanding of public opinions and will, establish a good trust foundation and communication channels, and adopt flexible half measures. On the other hand, we are required to import novel design concepts and ideas, and guide the common promotion of various parties.

Secondly, the renovation should be rooted in countryside and highlight the regional features. Instead of abolishing the old order at will and establishing a new one, we should maintain the mechanism and traditional order of villages for adapting to the new environment and development. Every village has the elements of “beauty”, such as landscapes, people, trees, history, stories, houses, culture, property and so on, that is, each village has its own uniqueness;every village has fine quality, remarkable taste, lofty character and famous brand, that is, each village has its preeminence;every village has its root, which means each village has its own local culture. Meanwhile, ecological technology should be introduced on the basis of inheriting local traditional building materials and techniques.[3]

Thirdly, residential renovation should be moderately designed to meet the actual needs in construction process. Some parts are carefully crafted, while some parts are simply designed but indispensable to the whole design. The key is to identity the core and subsidiary functions, and renovate the crucial parts only.

Fourthly, subtraction design is essential. A large number of cement roads, parking lots, yards, squares and concrete revetment of ponds were built in the early construction of “The Beautiful Countryside”. Some of them should be demolished to bring air into the earth and enable the insects as well as grass to breathe. The designing principles of low investment, easy maintenance and focuses on appreciating management should be insisted.

3.3.1. Mutual Aid Construction in the Reconstruction of Residences

In traditional Chinese villages, residences have been constructed in a self-sufficient manner. However, the construction system of modern buildings changes its way into professional division of labor and high capital intensification, and moves towards intensive and professional development, which makes farmers who are in a weak position in economy cannot build their houses on their own.

We don’t help them build a house but teach them how to build instead.” The team gives full play to the subjective initiative of the farmers in the renovation of residences, allowing them to participate in every part from design to construction. The traditional method in which “journeymen” build houses retakes the construction work from the professional construction team. Then, the villagers can construct their houses by themselves and use “working hours” as the unit of calculation to make the cost lower than the market and separate from the mainstream construction market.

This participation first embodies in respecting villagers’ willingness to rebuild and giving them the right to speak. At the beginning of the design, the owner of Wanxiu No. 1 courtyard put forward his ideas to rebuild and expand the partial house as a farmhouse restaurant, to enhance the attractiveness of the building’s appearance and to tidy up the courtyard. In order to realize his wishes, the design team applied the traditional masonry method San Dou Yi Mian (standing three-layered empty bucket separated by a layer of solid brick wall) to decorate the outer layer of the building, and used old black tiles to form a dark pressed top at the cornice of the roof, which restored the traditional residential style of white walls, black bricks and gray tiles in southern China. In the renovation of the courtyard, the core function of the “courtyard”, a rural residence, has been positioned under the guidance of several key words “fences, walls, hedges, plantations, forests, lookouts, and public living room”.

In the process of mutual aid construction, the contradiction between the design team and the villagers is inevitable. The key point lies in finding consensus in the communication. The team should present the facts and reason things out, put themselves in villagers’ shoes, and seek common ground while reserving differences at the right time. In the renovation of Wanxiu No.2 courtyard, the design team wanted to replace the red glazed tile at the second floor of the shed into a small black- tiled roof, which made the whole village more harmonious. However, the owner insisted on not replacing because the glazed tile had spent him a lot of money and he was afraid of the influence of eaves’ removal on building structure and roof waterproofing. After many times of ineffective persuasion, we could only respect household opinions in the end.

The contradiction that needs to be resolved also exists between the villagers and the government, which also needs to be coordinated by the design team. For example, the owner of Wanxiu No.4 courtyard hoped to expand the existing kitchen and rebuild a partial house for accommodating visitors. However, the size of the new building was oversized, which occupied too much space in the yard. As a result, the design was rejected by the district government, and the owner of the household was very dissatisfied. After listening to the opinions of the two parties, the team made adjustments to the design:the kitchen was merged with the rear partial house, and a semi-opened gallery was designed in the location for the kitchen. It not only increased the building area, but also took into account the use of functions, and ultimately enabled the implementation of the program. The renovated No. 4 Courtyard was both exquisite and comfortable. The half-open wooden gallery was transparent and cool where was a pleasant place to eat and drink tea.

Problems like this happened almost every week. We patiently explained to and persuaded the villagers. The village was also changing in a lively way in the midst of a series of games.

3.3.2. Emphasizing on Local Materials and Traditional Process Applications

Traditional materials endow architecture with the passion of the earth, the vicissitudes of history, the vitality of life and the warmth of human nature, which are beyond the reach of many modern materials. For local artisans, the associated local construction techniques are the easiest to operate and most economical.[4]

The most typical local building material that the team used in the pilot village was the black brick, as it is the most common material in local housing construction. For example, during the renovation of Wanxiu No.1 courtyard, the materials for external walls we began to select were traditional black bricks produced in Hunan Province. Each brick cost about 1.50 yuan, and the decoration of the entire building's exterior walls would have to use more than 13000 pieces altogether. Although the brick wall was very beautiful after the construction, the owner could not afford the high material cost. To this end, the team leader, Professor Ye Yun, put the improvement of black brick, which was used extensively in construction as an urgent design problem to be solved. During this period, he visited a variety of brick factories, and made a lot of technical attempts with skilled workers and experts. Finally, a new material ratio was found, which developed a new type of black brick suitable for large-scale promotion in traditional residential construction. It not only had the same appearance as the traditional black brick, but also had better physical and chemical indicators than the traditional black brick. Above all, its price was still very cheap, which only took up 40%-50% price of the original brick. In the subsequent renovation of Wanxiu No.1 courtyard, the new type of black brick was applied, saving more than 9,000 yuan on the construction cost for the owner of the household, and 120,000 yuan on the construction materials cost for the entire village.

The skillful use of local materials can not only reduce the amount of labor in the construction process and save the transportation cost, but also form the architectural style and culture with regional characteristics. Also, in the renovation of Wanxiu No.1 courtyard, the team used the old bricks collected from the neighboring villages to build the added partial housing, and applied the preservative treated local bamboo to build the tea house on the second floor. As a local material, bamboo was also used in the design of public restrooms in the village, effectively integrating the village environment. Using the dry-stone barrier was the common way to build a retaining wall. It could also be used to cover the ground, build the outer wall, or to obtain a good texture comparison side by side with black brick.

Figure 5. A wall built with black bricks, black tiles, stones and bamboos.

In the rural areas of southeastern Hubei province, building a house with rammed earth is a popular construction process in the early years. They are characterized with low cost, outstanding thermal performance, low technical requirements for workers, and short construction time. Although most of the existing bauxite houses in Zhangyuan Village were dilapidated, considering the overall style of the village, the team still tried to renovate and design a residence. Although various obstacles had been encountered during the construction process, it was believed that with the further development of the local tourism industry, and the improvement of the villagers’ eyesight, this form of construction would be accepted by local villagers.

3.3.3. Inheriting Traditional Architectural Vocabulary

Under the guidance of the design idea of “one brand in one village and one view in one village”, the research team has designed and positioned the renovation of the two villages based on the long-term collection and arrangement of the traditional residences in southeastern Hubei province. In the design of the residential renovation of Wanxiu Village, the character of “elegance” is highlighted. The traditional plain brick wall in white and dark black tile roof constitute a traditional residence in the south of the Yangtze River, which is not only fresh and graceful but also sufficient layers. In Zhangyuan Village, because the overall landscape of the village presents a rough and vigorous temperament, the character of “modesty” is highlighted. By using common architectural decoration symbols such as chitou, brick carving, stone gate, arch house and so on in southeast Hubei province, the unique architectural style of Zhangyuan Village, which is both stable and simple without losing its vitality, has been formed by refining and merging, presenting a "modesty"character.

3.3.4. Renovation and Promotion of Residential Interior Functions

The “three-room” architectural pattern directly determines the layout of most residences. The hall is located on the central axis, with bedrooms or living rooms on both sides and stairs arranged behind the building. Although this layout has certain advantages in terms of lighting and ventilation, it is not very private, and there is room as a dining room on the first floor. In accordance with the business needs of the “farmhouse”, the team re-adjusted the functions of each room, transforming the first floor into a dining room and the second floor as the bedroom or guest room. The team tried to add a bathroom on each floor to meet the needs of life and business based on the structure of the house. A decorative porch or cloak was added to the partial house or main entrance to create a transitional space between the indoor and outdoor courtyards, enriching the level of the facade and highlighting the main entrance.

Figure 6. Wanxiu No.1 courtyard after renovation.

Figure 7. No.4 courtyard before renovation.

Figure 8. Renovation diagram of No.4.

Figure 9. No.4 courtyard after renovation.

Figure 10. Wanxiu No.9 courtyard after renovation.

On the other hand, urban people have become the mainstay of leisure agriculture consumption by building a farming culture in new countryside. After investigation, it is found that in addition to the beautiful countryside environment and the unique charm of the new southeastern residences, the courtyards in the residences are the places where can attract tourists to stay the most. The trees in these courtyards are bulky and leafy while the unique stone mills, sinks, water tanks and other objects are scattered casually. Appreciating views, taking photos, sitting down or enjoying a cup of local new tea in the yard can bring people who get tired of the noisy and busy life in cities a fresh and simple picture of rural life. In accordance with the principle of “focusing on courtyard rather than on building”, the team tries to retain the original residences, control the production of construction waste, and reduce the pollution to the surrounding environment, putting the emphasis on the construction of small environments around the residences, and decreasing the reconstruction cost at the same time.[5]

Figure 11. Ecological restrooms:application of ecological technology and native.

4. Strategic Thinking and Enlightenment

The design and research team in the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” has social responsibilities to make its own contribution to the construction of the country, and assists to develop the farmers’ subjectivity under the leadership of the government to build “The Beautiful Countryside” in “economic development, community construction, community governance” trinity mode under the principle of “Each village has its own leading product and view”. Such ideals and goals determine that they are able to stand in the public’s position and contribute to achieve the best results.

The construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” shall be guided by the government, with farmers as the subject. Under the premise of emphasizing the collective economy, the farmers are effectively organized and administrative villages are taken as the unit, economic cooperation as the engine, and cooperatives at all levels as the operating units with some system design. On the basis of strengthening the collective economy, the village-level organization capacity is strengthened, the traditional social order returns, and many aspects including agricultural production, farmers’ life, rural governance, public services, social security, cultural construction, and natural ecological environment move towards to a healthy and sustainable development path. Diversified participation has obtained some progresses such as realizing the transformation of farmers’ role, the equal relationship between officials and the public, the transition from institutionalization to non-Institutionalization and the full-participation of village construction, which played a demonstrative role in the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” in the surrounding villages.

4.1. Government Guidance Strategy--Exerting the Guiding Role of Government Efforts

4.1.1. Guidance Based on the Needs of Rural Sustainable Development

First of all, the government should proactively integrate into the local residents to understand their willingness to develop and encourage them to find ways to solve their own difficulties. The government departments that undertake the construction work of “The Beautiful Countryside” should pay attention to the actual situation of the countryside, the predicaments and problems of countryside development, and make construction plans guided by the sustainable development of “The Beautiful Countryside” instead of completely copying the experience of developed countries. This development mode focuses on self-esteem brought by solving problems independently in an individual or group manner. And this kind of self-esteem is cultivated by organizations who take root in local culture traditions and have ability of self-development and finding the most suitable way to run their business. [6]

At the same time, in accordance with the idea of industry feeding back agriculture, cities driving rural areas, equalizing urban and rural infrastructure, and sharing land value in rural areas, [7] we should empower farmers, help them to rebuild an autonomous villagers’ community with routine power, governance power, property power and financial power, inspire farmers’ desire for self-development and improve farmers'ability for decision-making and self-development.

4.1.2. Multi-Dimensional Support for “The Beautiful Countryside” Construction Project

Firstly, the “GSP system” is used to stimulate the enthusiasm of the villagers. Due to the excessive marketization and the community of agriculture-related sectors, the interests of “The Beautiful Countryside” project were largely captured by the elite, which seriously weakened the foundation of this project. Therefore, the government must vigorously break down the existing community of agriculture-related departments, tear down the false tradition that big-scale farmers swallow up small-scale farmers, and the fictitious cooperation and prosperity with the capital flowing to the countryside. Government shall combine finance, the “GSP system” with the interests of small-scale farmers, and cultivate a massive scale of people to construct “The Beautiful Countryside”.

Secondly, a variety of means shall be adopted to support the self-development ability that village can push forward “The Beautiful Countryside” project in a sustainable way. In this project, government shall not only stay at the level of providing funds, but also support it from several aspects including investment, intelligence, and technology. Putting in efforts is not the government’s ultimate goal;the goal of the government is to make its effort exert supportive act. Consequently, this project can operate without external efforts in the future.

4.2. Villagers-based strategy--Improving the Environmental Conditions for Villagers’ Participation

4.2.1. Improvement of the Participation Process

In the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” led by the government, the main reasons for the low participation of the masses are as follows:firstly, the villagers are unaware of the village construction plan and often “participate in after the event; secondly, the villagers do not recognize the existing plans;thirdly, the interests demand of the villagers have nowhere to tell.

In the construction of “beautiful villages” led by villager’ self-governing organizations, although the participation of the masses is significantly higher than that of government, there are some shortcomings in the participation process. For example, villagers are not involved in each step of construction, and they have the right to know but have no right to decide. Participation process shall be improved from the research stage at the beginning of project to the designed plan review stage and the program publicity stage, and the participation of the masses shall be raised from the original “no participation” to “semi-participation” and finally to “full participation”.

4.2.2. Improvement of Participation Degree

The degree of the masses participation has been shifted from a shallow “formal participation” to a deeper “content participation”. Compared with learning the benefit of “The Beautiful Countryside” only from attending some conference and listening to some policies, the masses are more easily motivated by organizing village representatives to visit the model villages to study and experience the changes in the villages and the benefit for villagers brought by the countryside construction.

Meanwhile, the formulation and improvement of corresponding participation policies, procedures, and methods can enable farmers to participate in project construction with institutional guarantees.

4.2.3. Improvement of Participation Information

Following the full disclosure of construction project information, farmers are put in the first place, the relevant policies and welfare of farmers in their participation are improved, the environment for farmers’ participation is proactively created, autonomously participation of farmers is encouraged, and the phenomenon of hindering or delaying the project due to human factors is reduced.

4.2.4. Improvement of the Construction Form

During the implementation stage, the participation form of villagers gradually transforms from the “oral participation” by proposing the design requirements and advice to design team to “practical participation” and the public participation is improved through the Internet. “Practical participation” has two advantages. Firstly, it increases the enthusiasm of the masses to participate in the construction, and villagers’ independent design can result in the phenomenon of “competing in construction and striving for the best”, which also saves money on design. Secondly, villagers’ independent design reflects much more local tradition than that of the design team.

4.3. The Media Strategy of the Design Team--Harmonic Effect among the Participants

The composition of the team is not only by designers, but should include experts from fields including system construction, cooperative construction, tourism planning, planning and design, ecological design, architectural transformation and design, landscape design, interior design, brand promotion. The team is also a group of social activists who have ability to executive, to understand the ideas of the government, village committees, villagers, construction parties. In addition, they enable to seek a reasonable point, proposing economical and efficient solutions to meet different needs.

Especially after summarizing the practice of Liangzi Lake, the paper explores the path of rural construction, analyzes the influence of farmer’participation behavior on rural construction projects, and concludes that the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” should follow and pay attention to these points:

Firstly, different villages should be treated differently. The characteristics of 120,000 central villages in need of key construction in China should be built meticulously for pursuing that every village has its leading industry and its own unique view.

Secondly, stimulating the “internal vitality” should be put as central work, and public participation degree should be increased. The construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” is not only a matter of the government, instead farmers should be the main body. The interests of farmers should be respected. Also, farmers should have the decision-making right in constructing, planning and implementing “The Beautiful Countryside”, so that to maximize their initiative, enthusiasm and creativity.

We shall strengthen the policy propaganda and the training for related knowledge and skills for the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside”, especially let farmers participate in the planning and construction of villages, supervise construction and improve the construction speed and overall satisfaction.

Thirdly, the priority shall be given to software construction. Software construction is the engine, which guarantees the effective operation of the “endogenous mechanism”. Specifically, the mutual fund cooperatives should do a good job in fund transfusions to tourism cooperatives, pension cooperatives, and agricultural product processing cooperatives. The separation management and operation of other cooperatives and mutual fund cooperatives should be assured. Besides, we must also work hard in development planning and cultural construction, and the formulation of village rules and regulations. While attaching importance to the construction of community economy, we should pay more attention to recalling traditional culture such as filial piety culture;while developing tourism products, we should carry out various cultural and sports activities and enhance the cohesion between villages.

Fourthly, hardware construction should have its own characteristics, which covers the renovation of residential buildings, village public buildings and facilities, village landscape space spots, plants arrangements, sewage treatment and so on. Hardware construction should start from small things and the advantages of agricultural ecological civilization should be restored with the treatment of garbage and sewage as the starting point.

Fifthly, it’s better not to spoil things by excessive enthusiasm. The construction of “The Beautiful countryside” cannot be a “great leap forward”. It is a long-term process that may take 30-50 years. It contains many issues such as the renewal of the people’s concept who are involved in construction, the cultivation of cooperatives and markets, and the improvement of villagers’ ideology. Before these problems are solved, the faster the speed and the greater the investment would mean the smaller effect.

Sixthly, the modes and means of stimulating the internal viability strategy of “public participation” should be explored, and power from various sectors should be inspired to form “The Beautiful Countryside”, and the key point of construction should be changed from “Materialized Countryside” to the “Humanized Countryside”.

The “endogenous model” in the construction of “The Beautiful Countryside” is ultimately based on the village community, cooperatives, and relies on the unique resources of the village promoting that every village has its own leading industry and its unique view. At this point, although the experiment has achieved certain results, the road ahead is still full of thorns. On the way forward, how to coordinate the interests of various sectors, the relationship among large households, capital and small households, and the docking problem between grass-roots cooperatives and higher authorities, as well as the technical aspects of the future operation of cooperatives deserves a further study and exploration.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this article.


The Liangzihu village experiment was planned and practiced by team members including Ye Yun, Yuan Xinping, Li Yifei, Hou Tao, Luo Bin, Bai Xue, Yang Xiaojun, Weng Wenxia, Li Jing, Zhang Feng, Cao Shitu and Professor Tan Gangyi of Huazhong University of Science and Technology from 2013 to 2015.


© 2017 by the authors. Licensee International Technology and Science Press Limited. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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