Rural buildings renovated by Librairie Avant-Garde: one bookstore in Yunnan province's Jianchuan county [Photo by Su Jinquan/Provided to China Daily] Rural communities that were once condemned by departure of their young are seeing an upswing in popularity thanks to the vision of creative architects and the construction of new cultural spaces, Yang Yang reports. Urban life has too often sounded the death knell for tradition, especially the types of homes people live in. Villages have been depopulated in the rush by workers, mostly young people, the very lifeblood of any community, to the cities. Zhang Lei, a professor from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at Nanjing University, wants to stop this by getting, as any good architect would, to the very foundations of the problem. Zhang's students are urged to go to the countryside to see old houses in traditional settlements and experience what is called "architecture without architects". "For years, we had seen a lot of old villages dying slowly before being torn down. It's such a shame. So I wanted to do something," Zhang says. Zhang's two design works for Librairie Avant-Garde, the Yunxi Library bookshop in Tonglu county's Daijiashan village and Chenjiapu Bookstore in Songyang county, both in East China's Zhejiang province, were opened respectively in 2015 and 2018. The villages have since seen an upswing in visitors.