An introduction to the Three Masters Association
by Du Lihong
The Guangdong Volunteer Association of Planners, Architects and Engineers is a non-profit social organisation made up of professionals including designers, teachers and other technical and local experts from relevant sectors. The association is called the Three Masters Association for short.
In the spirit of dedication, friendship, mutual assistance and continuous progress, the association actively protects and utilises the region’s tangible cultural heritage, while also promoting the innovation of its intangible cultural heritage, and helps to enhance Guangdong’s strong sense of culture.
History of the association
The Three Masters Association was founded in 2014 on the initiative of a group of enthusiastic planners and architects who wanted to provide support to rural areas. The aim was to create a sense of social responsibility among a wider range of professionals and encourage them to apply their professional expertise to improve the quality of rural architecture in their free time on a voluntary basis. In 2016, the Guangdong Province Three Masters Professional Volunteer Committee was established in the city of Guangzhou. In 2020, it was registered at the Provincial Civil Affairs Department as a fully licensed, structured and qualified social organisation with 1095 registered members and 44 member organisations.
The association adopted a model of expert-led organisation, team setup, multilateral cooperation and upstream and downstream coordination. With experts as its core, the association brings together volunteer members and member organisations to provide high-quality services and value-added consultations to various projects. It maintains connections and facilitates cooperation over resources with its sister units such as the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Guangdong Engineering Survey and Design Industry Association, and the Guangdong Land and Space Planning Association. It also acts as an interface between provincial government departments and local governments, as well as between local enterprises and communities in order to facilitate the formation of a harmonious and mutually beneficial system of cooperation.
Promoting the road with expertise
Entrusted by the Provincial Department of Natural Resources for three consecutive years, professional experts from the Three Masters Association have provided one-to-one technical guidance on the key routes and nodes of the southern Guangdong Ancient Post Road, thus contributing to protecting and restoring the Ten Post Roads.
Revitalising the village by road
Moreover, the Three Masters Association highlighted the link between the Ancient Mulberry Road and the development of villages along it. They carried out valuable and diversified rural service activities aimed at revitalising the Ten Post Roads. These activities have gradually been branded under names such as the Master Small Loan, Beautiful and Liveable Rural Initiative, Southern Guangdong Ten Posts Road Orienteering Competition, and the Cultural and Creative Competition.
The Three Masters Association engages in both research and practice. This allows them to combine practice and theory, and use theory to guide practice. The association has published books about the Two Mountains Theory and is currently working on a three-volume series, including a book of academic essays called Theoretical Inquiry and Practical Innovation of the Ten Post Roads in southern Guangdong and a volume entitled Review of the Technical Guidance Work of the Ten Post Roads in southern Guangdong.
The Three Masters Association is looking forward to exchanging and cooperating with more talented groups in China and abroad to explore the integration of historical and cultural heritage conservation and rural revitalisation with Chinese characteristics.
President of the Guangdong Volunteer Association of Planners, Architects and Engineers
Article from a presentation as part of the webinar "Patrimoine, mise en valeur et revitalisation des territoires"