A Summary of the Study on the Authenticity of Traditional Village Architecture Space


The principle of authenticity is the basic and primary principle of the protection of historical and cultural heritage. It is the key to measuring the value of the heritage and the basis for the protection of the heritage. It is inseparable from the protection of traditional villages. As an important part of the cultural heritage of traditional villages, architectural space is an important carrier of traditional village memory and culture, carrying various material and intangible functions. At present, the importance of historical and cultural heritage protection and authenticity protection of traditional villages is becoming more and more prominent. This article summarizes relevant domestic and foreign research, hoping to understand the authenticity protection of historical and cultural heritage and traditional village architectural space from existing research results.

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Mi, F. and Wang, Y. (2021) A Summary of the Study on the Authenticity of Traditional Village Architecture Space. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 9, 228-240. doi: 10.4236/jss.2021.96018.

1. Research Background

1.1. The Importance of Authenticity Research

The principle of authenticity is the basic and primary principle of the protection of historical and cultural heritage, and is the key to the standard for measuring the value of the heritage and the basis for the protection of the heritage. With the progress of society and the needs of urban development, the historical heritage and cultural relics of many cities and towns have been destroyed in the course of economic development and development. Aware of the urgency of the problem, the protection of cultural relics, history, and traditional buildings has become an important strategic component of urban and rural development, and has been widely used in the fields of architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, heritage protection, etc. Destroying the authenticity of historical heritage will lead to the disappearance of important historical information, and the lack of awareness of authenticity and lack of protection awareness will also hinder the protection of historical and cultural heritage.

First of all, at the material level, on the one hand, the protection and repair behavior damages the authenticity, such as the failure to restore the original structure of the historical building in the structural repair, or the material selection is quite different from the original material of the historical building. Functionally change the original functional purpose and so on. On the other hand, the unfavorable supervision of the government and the protection subject and the weak protection awareness make the authenticity of cultural relics lost in the development process.

Secondly, at the non-material level, the lack of authenticity protection for culture and perception will result in the loss of the subject of cultural authenticity, the dislocation of cultural display in time and space, the lack of cultural integrity, and the simplification of cultural diversity. In addition, the neglect and misunderstanding of the cultural subject have caused the cultural subject to lose the dominant power, leading to the destruction of the authenticity of administrative power and commercial operations, and the forcible transplantation and grafting of cultural symbols have caused great damage to the intangible authenticity.

The third is at the environmental level on which history depends. Many laws and regulations for the protection of historical culture have only made requirements and instructions for the authenticity protection of historical buildings, historical features, and traditional patterns. This has led to a lack of protection in many protection practices. The historical space environment, surrounding residents, and natural environment considerations on which historical heritage relies have led to the destruction of the surrounding environment of cultural relics and historic sites. For example, the construction of private houses, commercial shops and other buildings around historical sites destroys the original historical environment and spatial pattern, and makes the original distinctive space lose its authenticity.

1.2. The Necessity of Authenticity Protection and Development in Traditional Villages

As an important part of Chinese historical and cultural heritage, traditional villages are also inseparable from authenticity. Traditional villages have rich historical and cultural values. The villages and villagers basically follow the traditional patterns, traditional styles, traditional shapes, traditional materials, traditional techniques, traditional spatial scales and the original ecological dependent environment that have been inherited from the ancestors, maintaining the traditional living and living forms and Farming culture has distinctive national and regional cultural characteristics. In the process of protecting and developing villages, these special historical and cultural information must be preserved, otherwise the basis for their existence will be lost.

With the acceleration of social development, urbanization and global tourism, the authenticity and culture of many traditional villages are facing unprecedented challenges and impacts. First of all, since the protection of authenticity is not paid attention to, there are many over-exploitation, unreasonable, and blind plastic transformations in the development process, which to a large extent destroys the authenticity of traditional villages. In the process of seeking the development of traditional villages, many traditional villages promote the development of the village economy through the development of tourism. In order to strengthen the spatial image of traditional villages and unified planning to create the village image, many villages have abandoned their own historical and cultural characteristics, causing the same pattern in the ancient villages and “one side of a thousand villages” destroys the authentic elements of traditional villages and the natural ecological environment at will. Secondly, with the development of society, farmers’ incomes and lifestyles are changing. Traditional buildings with a lack of infrastructure and poor internal environment can no longer meet the living requirements of modern people. Improving living conditions has become an urgent desire for many aborigines. However, because the original historical buildings, traditional buildings or historical environment are too dilapidated, it is difficult to repair and improve. In addition, even in order to relieve the pressure on the construction of ancient villages, many traditional villages have “demolished the old and built the new” phenomenon, causing a large number of historical buildings to be destroyed and the traditional style of the village to be fragmented. Third, the protection subject’s lack of a correct understanding of authenticity has also led to the destruction of the original historical information of the object during the renovation and transformation of ancient buildings, making the authenticity disappear.

1.3. The Main Problems Currently Facing the Architectural Space of Traditional Villages

As an important part of the cultural heritage of traditional villages, architectural space is an important carrier of traditional village memory and culture, carrying various material and intangible functions. In the process of continuous development and evolution of traditional villages, villagers’ life patterns will change with changes in the external environment and internal relations. This change in life patterns has also led to the demise of certain architectural functions in the village, which makes the architectural space lose the meaning of existence. As a result, several phenomena have appeared in the village. One phenomenon is that although many architectural spaces still exist during the evolution of the village, they have been neglected and abandoned due to the disappearance of their use functions. Another phenomenon is that when the architectural space is being transformed and demolished, the original form of the architectural space is destroyed, resulting in the loss of authenticity. Both of these phenomena have caused waste and destruction to the historical heritage resources of the village.

2. Research Purposes

Based on the principle of authenticity, this research will be based on the architectural space of traditional villages. From the space carrying level of architectural functions, it proposes different types of architectural space restoration and renewal strategies, so as to solve the current use of architectural space by villagers in traditional villages. The differences and contradictions between the appeal and the historical authenticity of the space site make the two organically unified.

The purpose of the research is to solve the two problems of traditional village architectural space:

1) Make the architectural space of the traditional village meet the actual function, adapt to the modern lifestyle, and be convenient for the villagers to use, and carry out the functional transformation and update of the site function.

2) To make the architectural space of the traditional village is protected, the space cultural heritage is continued, and its original characteristics are preserved.

3. Significance of Research

At present, the protection and development of traditional villages are facing the dual pressure of urgency and necessity. It is necessary to protect the historical and cultural imprints of traditional villages and to meet the functions and requirements of the modern development of the villages. At the same time, the protection and renewal of the historical and cultural relics of traditional villages cannot be separated from the original research and analysis. The original traditional village renewal model is difficult to solve the current problems. It is urgent to propose a new guiding principle, systematic evaluation standard and implementation system. Through this research, many current scholars’ cognition of “authenticity” is analyzed and expanded, and the originality connotation in line with the current traditional village architectural space is proposed, and the originality is improved and supplemented in the restoration and renewal of the traditional village architectural space level. The scope of application provides reference and practical significance for the protection and development of current traditional villages, so as to better preserve and use the historical and cultural heritage of traditional villages.

4. Research Status and Development Trend

4.1. International Research Status and Trends

The international discussion on the concept of “authenticity” has made continuous progress and development, and a relatively mature cognitive system and framework has gradually formed, which is mainly reflected in a series of important international charters related to authenticity. In academic research, the authenticity research mostly revolves around the protection and restoration of historical cultural monuments, heritage tourism development, etc., involving multiple disciplines. According to the SCI literature journal search, there are about 81,581 documents as of 2020, including computer science, Sociology, pedagogy, philosophy and other disciplines, based on research results that are similar to the term “authenticity” defined in the Venice Charter, are used for historical heritage protection research, mainly in sociology (accounting for 9.21%), environmental science (0.84%), engineering (6.39%) and economics (3.13%), this type of research is more biased towards the theories and methods of historical heritage protection and tourism development. There is also the computer science level (accounting for 14.54%) on “authenticity” research is more through computer applications, digital modeling, information system establishment methods, focusing on specific areas of operation, this type of research is more technical and practical (shown in Table 1).

Table 1. The research on authenticity, historical villages and architecture space.

At the research level of historical villages, there is no definition of “traditional villages” abroad, and foreign scholars often permeate them into rural tourism and the renewal of historical villages for the study of historical small towns and historical buildings. In the discussion of the internal space function of the building, the main focus is on the function, material, and physical properties of the building itself, while the external space focuses on the study of non-material forms.

4.2. Chinese Research Status and Development Trend

The “unchanging the original state of cultural relics”, which has been followed for a long time in the protection of cultural relics and historical sites in China, has a similar meaning to authenticity. The domestic research on authenticity began in the late 1990s, first on the basis of the fields of history, society, and archaeology, followed by the continuous integration of academic achievements in the fields of planning, architecture, and geography, and then obtained through a series of legal documents. Extension. The main content of authenticity research focuses on three aspects: tourism development, heritage protection and renewal strategies.

The research on traditional villages began to develop gradually in the 1950s, and Professor Ruan Yisan initiated the research on the protection of traditional villages and towns in China. Since the early 1990s, scholars in the field of architecture have also begun to pay attention to the protection of traditional villages in terms of vernacular architecture and settlement landscape. Chen Zhihua has carried out investigations and researches on the vernacular architecture of ancient villages, and Peng Yigang has conducted research on traditional village landscapes. Later, scholars in other fields such as geography also carried out a series of research work on historical and cultural villages and towns. In 2012, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of my country promulgated the “Guiding Opinions on Strengthening the Protection and Development of Traditional Villages”, which clarified the importance and necessity of the protection and development of traditional villages, conducted surveys on traditional villages, established a directory system, and promoted the protection and development of traditional villages. Preparation and implementation (shown in the Table 2).

Table 2. The research on authenticity, architecture space of historical villages.

5. Conclusion and Outlook

5.1. Summary of Research Status

After comprehensively analyzing the research status and trends of “authenticity”, “traditional village” and “architectural space” at home and abroad, the summary is as follows:

First, the research on authenticity is mainly concentrated in the field of historical and cultural heritage, and its concept has been developing and expanding, and the level of application has become more and more extensive, from the original meaning of authenticity as a religious relic in the early days to the application in the field of heritage protection. It is mainly used to define, evaluate and monitor a basic factor of cultural heritage. In general, the connotation of authenticity is no longer limited to its original meaning. In addition to authentically reproducing the original appearance of the cultural heritage, it also includes cultural diversity, the place and environment where the heritage exists, and so on. Its manifestation gradually extends from the material level to the non-material cultural level and the spatial level. Western scholars put more emphasis on the combination of historical heritage, tourism and management in the application of the principle of authenticity. Chinese scholars have used authenticity in the protection of traditional villages in the application of authenticity in recent years. Although the principle of authenticity is widely used in the protection and repair of the material level, few scholars have conducted research on the authenticity of architectural spaces.

Second, at the research level of traditional villages, although the main content of Chinese research is many, it mainly focuses on culture, tourism development, traditional village value, spatial form, public space and traditional village protection and development. Research on traditional villages is valuable. The study of its characteristics, from the perspective of the village’s historical culture and its own characteristics, form and evolution, analyzes its village’s characteristics and historical, cultural, artistic, scientific, and social values. It was not until 2016 that scholars connected authenticity with traditional villages (Zhu & Yang, 2016). For example, some scholars formulated a list of authenticity elements for the architectural style of traditional villages (Xiao, 2016), and proposed the composition of authenticity from the physical carrier level of traditional villages. Elements (Xiong, 2017), summarize the authenticity elements from the artificial, landscape and natural environment elements of traditional villages (Wang, 2018), and summarize the obstacles to heritage authenticity protection (Pan, 2017) based on the theory of authenticity, make traditional village archives formulation, planning and publicity operation (Wang, 2017b). Therefore, the research on the application of authenticity in traditional villages needs to be further expanded.

Third, at the architectural space level, Western scholars have rich theoretical results on the interior and exterior of the general architectural space. However, in the restoration and renewal of the architectural space of historical buildings and rural historical heritage, more research focuses on the repair and renewal of the function, material, and physical properties of the building itself, but lack of the authentic connection of the external space of the building and the study of the spiritual function of carrying intangible culture. Chinese scholars have focused more on the study of spatial form, landscape influence and physical entities of buildings in the architectural space of traditional villages, but lacked the repair and update of architectural space functions.

Therefore, it is necessary to link the principle of authenticity with traditional villages and architectural space, and establish the application of the principle of authenticity at the architectural space level of traditional villages. It is necessary to settle on the functional level of architectural space.

5.2. Problems to Be Solved

Through the literature review of this article, a certain foundation has been laid for the follow-up research. In the study of the architectural space of traditional villages, we can establish an evaluation system based on the principle of authenticity and architectural space influence factors, give different strategies for different architectural space types and existing problems in traditional villages, and propose the traditional village architectural space. Repair and update mode.

5.3. Research Significance

Through a literature review of important concepts such as “authenticity”, “traditional villages” and “architectural space” and related theories, this paper analyzes the current application scope of “authenticity” and finds research gaps. In the follow-up research, the system construction of authenticity and traditional village building space restoration and renewal will be further proposed, and combined with the actual cases of traditional villages for application and practice. By summarizing the necessity of restoration and renewal of traditional village buildings, the concept of “authenticity” is introduced.

1) Analyze the current understanding of “authenticity” and propose a new evaluation system for the restoration and renewal of traditional village architectural spaces.

2) Establish an authentic implementation path in the restoration and renewal of traditional village buildings.

3) Through case practice and theoretical application, the feasibility of the authenticity evaluation system for the restoration and renewal of traditional village buildings is demonstrated.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this paper.


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