Beijing Design Week 2015. TAO – Trace Architecture Office adapted a historic neighbourhood to contemporary lifestyle. The studio designed a split courtyard rental house which can be shared by 4 young people working in the area. The project blends traditional Hutong structure with the new generation of singles in need of their private spaces.
“Split Courtyard House is a key project of urban regeneration of an historic area in Beijing, a transformation of traditional typology, an adaptation to new life style and an experiment on scale and construction” say at TAO studio.
In traditional courtyard house, all the rooms face the central yard without much privacy. The layout responds to traditional family living but it no longer suit for today’s young individual life style.
TAO studio divided the site into four sets of spaces, each with a room and a private small yard. All sets set face a different orientation and form a pinwheel configuration on layout. In such way, privacy for each room and yard is ensured. At the same time, the central yard is always with the public and living core according to Chinese lifestyle.
The project was presented during Beijing Design Week in Baitasi, a well preserved and historic area over 700 years old. Here narrow alleys called hutongs run through single story courtyard houses – Siheyuan – with pitched roofs, grey tiles and bricks.
Further south the high density Financial Street District rises up with modern buildings, and skyscrapers. Trees, open air electric lines, bicycles and a the slow paced lifestyle former hutongs were replaced by fancy hotel, malls and corporate business centres.
Split courtyard’s external surfaces blend with the local context. The inside materials are completely modern. White wall and wooden floor bring in a simple and bright background for modern living.
The central join of the four individual units is turned into shared living space for dining and chatting. A window is opened between the shared living space and each yard, with translucent glass protecting privacy. Each window acquires a unique traditional shape and the tree planted near to it in the yard may cast vivid shadows on it.
In each room, the bed is lifted into attic space to free the ground space for living and bathroom. The skylight and full height glazing facing the yard bring in natural light and make contact to nature, offering a quiet and introverted atmosphere.
The yard is small but of great significance for the life in here, as it forms an intimate relationship between man and nature. Two apricot trees and two date trees are carefully chosen for four yards, concerning the specific scale of each yard and the traditional Chinese aesthetics.
“Small yet functional, intimate yet open to nature, a modern living style yet with attachment to Chinese traditional aesthetics, is what split patio house offers to urban individuals in high density historical context of Beijing’s old city” say at TAO.
Split Courtyard House – Photos: courtesy of TAO and Beijing Design Week.