Micro-Yuan'er - Beijing - China
Cha’er Hutong#8 is a typical “Da-Za-Yuan”(big-messy-courtyard), once occupied by over a dozen families.
Over the past five decades, each family built a small add-on kitchen in the courtyard.
These add-on structures form a special density that is usually considered not interesting, and almost all of them are automatically wiped out during the renovation practiced in the past. In this project, instead of wiping the small add-on structures out, the architects redesign and re-use them. Doing so, they intend to recognize the add-on structures as an important historical layer and as a critical embodiments of Beijing’s contemporary civilian life in hutong, that has been so often overlooked.
ZAO/standardarchitecture studied the appearance and layout of the Cha’er Hutong in Dashilar, where numerous historic hutongs have survived the modernisation of construction. What was originally created as an addition for reasons of necessity is not demolished but protected as testimony of a time in Chinese history and culture that has now fallen by the wayside. It is incorporated into a more extensive project also encompassing the masonry building against which it rests, transforming the space into a library for children. The small amount of available space, only 9 square meters, is exploited to the utmost using furnishings as dividers and floors (i.e. chairs that can hold books, windows on the courtyard with spaces for reading and discuss…).
Large portions of the walls are made of glass, so that the entire building is perceived as a passageway rather than an effective bulk taking up space in the courtyard.
The centre of the volume is designed on the basis of the same principle: a little art gallery made out of the same grey brick as the hutong, with plywood interiors.
With Cha’er Hutong#8 courtyard project, the studio wish to strengthen bonds between communities, as well as to enrich the hutong life of local residents.
[project selected by Matteo Moriani]