A Chinese Economist’s Former Residence Is Transformed Into An Artful Memorial

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Most students had that one teacher who left a lasting imprint on their lives—and for Dongsheng Chen, that was economist Dong Fureng. (In fact, when Fureng was ill in 2004, Chen traveled all the way to the United States to visit him on behalf of his classmates.) It was only fitting that when WIT Design & Research transformed the teacher’s birthplace and childhood home into the Dong Fureng House Museum, Chen was leading the project as its biggest promoter.

Admittedly, restoring Fureng’s home might seem like an unconventional way to honor the “Greatest Economics Master of a Generation;” however, Chen shares that this residence was his personal respite after his teacher’s passing.

“In 2017, [Fureng’s] daughter, academician Dong Xinnian, and her husband, academician Wang Xiaofan, returned to China,” he shared in a statement. “On a special trip to accompany them in visiting the place, I came up with the idea of turning the building into a narrative memorial space. Today we commemorate him by restoring [to] educate our future generations, and encourage them to be as determined as [Fureng] in serving and making contributions to their country.”

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It’s also worth noting that the residence, which is located on Ninbgo’s first cement road, offers a quiet respite from the surrounding high-rise buildings. When WIT Design & Research came into the fold, it was important to simultaneously highlight the structure’s natural beauty and celebrate Fureng’s legacy.

“When I was studying abroad, I saw a large number of former residences and museums of notable historical figures, and truly felt the progress of civilization. We very much hope that through this project, the world can experience a similar respect for the advance of economics,” WIT Design & Research’s Zhenhua Luo said in statement.

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Enter the brick-wood home and you’ll head into the lobby, which features a laser-projection show by PROL that taps into the intersection of light and thought. As you roam throughout the 435-square-meter residence, you’ll witness small glimpses of Fureng’s life and the impact he left behind.

Dressed in camphorwood, an outer chamber in the south corridor is Fureng’s story and remaining artifacts. Meanwhile, a café in the outer chamber was reimagined to have thoughtful minimalism that acts as a visual exhale for both the body and mind. Head to the property’s courtyard, where a sculpture of Fureng sitting and reading hides behind a bamboo thicket. There’s also an academic forum, or salon, on the second floor, which is decked out in ceiling installation called “The Grace of Dripping Water” and two armchairs that once occupied Fureng’s former office.

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But, while the Dong Fureng House Museum places plenty of emphasis on the past, a few special design moments look to the future—and how Fureng’s influence will be felt for years to come.

“Instead of being new and different for its own sake, we have striven to accomplish an authentic aesthetic that does not rely on complicated forms to compel,” Luo shares.

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For example, look no further than the arched gallery that is nestled on the second floor. Based on classical Western architecture—with hints of traditional Chinese structures—the walkway is meant to highlight his 20th-century economic and academic achievements that have taken the global stage by storm.

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