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Te He

MA work

Facing Desert

Dunhuang is an oasis city that lays on the old Silk Road. Situated in western China, its location a key intersection between East and West, it became a pivotal site not only for trade but also cultural exchanges. However, currently this oasis is under threat from severe desertification, moving sand dunes continually invading Dunhuang’s housing and farmland. Under such vulnerable and precarious circumstances, how should architecture respond to these fast moving and critical environmental conditions? 

The flourish of Buddhism in Dunhuang has promoted the construction of temple grottoes and Buddhist sculptures for almost one thousand years. However, following the collapse of the trade route and the rise of the Cultural Revolution, local religious beliefs and folk sculpture techniques declined rapidly. The project re-examines the source of the natural disaster, sand, and develops it into an usable material. By solidifying sand, in combination with local traditional hand-craftsmanship, this construction method can be adopted in local architecture constructions and sculpture manufacturings. The projects speculates how Dunhuang might be revived using fabrication techniques embedded in its folk and craft industries, by using the latest material engineering. Instead of the traditional ways of managing desertification through isolation, this project aims to incorporate sand into the daily life and production, in order to achieve balanced living conditions between the inhabitants and their environment.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2016