Excerpt: Golden Barnyard: Cockaigne of Everyman is a revitalization project of barnyard designed by an architectural firm Wutopia Lab. The expression of the barnyard is simple and direct. So, the firm decided to use the golden color to symbolize the harvest field, the harvest that never ends. Wutopia Lab uses golden yellow permeable concrete, resembling paddy, with dark red lines to form an everlasting barnyard scene. Barnyard is functional, for crop processing. What is associated with the barnyard is the farm lifestyle and certain material fantasies of the time. In any case, the expression of the barnyard is simple and direct. So, I decided to use the golden color to symbolize the harvest field, the harvest that never ends.
[Text as submitted by Architect]
“The Past is never dead, it’s not even past.”
— <Faithful Place> Tana French
Wutopia Lab has transformed the abandoned barnyard in the Dongtanyuan outpost of Bright Food (Group) into the Cockaigne of Everyman. The heat was scorching, standing on the crumbling base, the rickety barn, equipment storage, the office, and the patchy flooring. Mr Wu asked me, who was wiping sweat, what could be done to these 8,400 square meters, 220m total length of the barnyard. I was a little lost due to the strangeness and the displacement of context.
Where did the moments I lived go
Did barnyard ever exist in my life? I remember it was only for a short time. When we were asked to have a mandatory experience in agriculture in high school, we gathered the harvested rice and stacked it in the centre of the barnyard. We hadn’t done much, but we were still tired enough to lay sprawled on the ground or the grain pile, gasping for breath and starving. I was reminded of Peter Brueghel’s The Land of Cockaigne, which depicts the dream of a “zone of comfort” that emerged from the endless toil of medieval Europeans. They imagined that people lived a life of freedom somewhere on the earth: “No work and no worries about food and drink, mountains of delicious food, wine and wine accumulation like the sea.” At that time, we, tired and had little food, could not think beyond what he painted, the illusion of feast and sluggishness.
I’m drunk, I’m drunk on the world’s injustice
That night, it was the day of the gathering. There was a bonfire and a performance. We ate all the food we had brought from home and saved for a month at once. We even drank alcohol for the first time. We were shouting out of tune because we knew that we would be free from the tedious and hard life of farming the next day. We joked and cried without a care in the world, and I got drunk for the first time. The first time I saw The Fight between Carnival and Lent, I remembered that night of drunkenness on the threshing floor. I thought of the brief forgetfulness and joyfulness of the mood without pretence and the carefree innocence.
Barnyard is functional, for crop processing. What is associated with the barnyard is the farm lifestyle and certain material fantasies of the time. In any case, the expression of the barnyard is simple and direct. So, I decided to use the golden color to symbolize the harvest field, the harvest that never ends.
I simply wanted the Cockaigne to be a place of “eternal leisure, superb food, and edible buildings”. It was paradise. Wutopia Lab uses golden yellow permeable concrete, resembling paddy, with dark red lines to form an everlasting barnyard scene: some are divided into blocks, some are scalloped, and in the open areas the terrain rises slightly, forming a “grain pile” with undulating heights on which to stand.
Looking at the whole field, it seems to be a frozen harvest time. The original gatehouse is designed as a time capsule (movable installation) of the past, commemorating the original reed-built dwelling of Chongming Island: the Huan Dong She, and the barn brick house is partially preserved to commemorate the memories of the old barnyard during the polder period.
The original farm equipment warehouse, renewed with a plain concrete façade, became an auxiliary room for the barnyard. The remaining part of the barn and the original two-story dormitory building were retained in their original architectural form, with the facade replaced with cream polycarbonate panels to become the Bright Milk House, a multifunctional space for research and development and display of the Bright Group’s new agricultural products.
At the end of the site, the original toilets are designed as another future capsule (movable installations), and the dark red ground line is transformed into a four-pronged cone made of weather-resistant steel plates that can be opened and closed, inside which a large number of memory store, the contents of which are a message or a piece of data for future relatives, friends, or even oneself. In the future, there can be intertwined different activities of the city and the countryside. It is a huge piece of earth art set in our familiar farm landscape.
The Past is in the present, but the future is still in our hands.”
— Ellie Wiesel
Cockaigne of Everyman is the third work in Wutopia Lab’s series for magical ordinary people. It is about simple desires, and together with sacred memories and heroic memorials, it becomes the world of the mortals in the Dongtanyuan.
The first work: Memorial of Everyman
The second work: Shrine of Everyman
The third work: Cockaigne of Everyman