Jia You is one of the founders of Beyond Architecture (BA) China. She engaged in a broad range of projects including multi-story residence, high-rise residence, villa, office building, hotel in her early career. After founding BA in 2014, she devoted herself to rural housing development.
Jia has found her passion in new Chinese rural housing since 2010. At that time, she helped her grandparents, who lived their entire life in a remote village, to build their retirement house. Jia soon found that most people in rustic China, particularly in the more remote areas, believed the traditional style residence is backward, and wanted something modern and fancy. After in-depth conversation with her grandfather, Jia found the reason behind: one was house style to represent family prestige, another was modern building is more functional. These real demands led to a deviated result that the European-style villas were widespread in rural China. Thus, Jia set her goal to keep the Chinese architecture legacy into new rural housing. The past 20 years sees millions of villages wiped off the map. As an architect, Jia realized her job is not just about creating a better village life, the incentive for people to come back to village and bring back their “cultural self-confidence” are both important. Jia’s social housing projects in BA are mainly in two categories: One is for rural revitalization, which is developing a new rural community and aims to improve the quality of village living. The design considers the local living style and regional culture to integrate into the language of the buildings. The other type is part of the process of urbanization in China, which includes demolition of the original rural housing, relocation and reconstruction of mid or high-rise urban housing. This approach is to focus on respecting the living habits of the residents, translating the space that carries rural life into urban modernity. As the only female founder of Bluetown Architects, Jia shows her strong empathy. In the communication with local villagers in project beginning, she can keenly capture their needs. In leading a team with younger designers, Jia gives guidance not only about professional knowledge, but also mental care. After years of practice of social housing, Jia developed her own knowledge of presenting new Chinese Rural Housing, including how to control the cost, keep full communication, incorporate feng shui, balance uniformity and maintain cultural venues. She actively gives lectures to universities and development groups about her “Social Housing Research” and “Chinese Style Residence”, to bring more social attention to new Chinese rural housing development.