archistry transforms traditional hutong building into speakeasy club in beijing

archistry transforms traditional hutong building into speakeasy club in beijing

design & research office archistry has transformed a nearly 100-year-old hutong building in the ancient city area of qianmen dazhalan, central beijing, into the speakeasy club quad house. using concrete to rebuild the structure’s façade, which had been dismantled in previous years when the building served as a factory and mahjong chess and card room later, the studio has created intricate details on it that add a dose of surrealism and fun to the dark grey alleys of the old hutong area.

archistry transforms traditional hutong building into speakeasy club in beijingall images by david chu



following detailed research into the local archives, archistry’s principal architect nolan chao traced the appearance of the original façade, which was a typical double-deck multi-arch one built of stone blocks during the republic of china. for the new construction, the studio has used concrete and combined it with wood on the semi-circular terrace, while both on the ground floor and on the roof, the façade features extruded curved outlines which are layered with lighting on their inside.



the two story speakeasy club can be accessed through a small glass hallway, where the lobby of the bar is located, while handmade materials such as brick, stone, concrete and wood dominate the space as a reference to the republic of china era. modern equipment and appliances such as air conditioners, equipment, lamps and pipes in the lobby are hidden in the walls, ceiling and the bar counter. past the individual lobby, visitors need to go through the long corridor, which is covered on both sides with clear water brick walls washed by salt water.

archistry transforms traditional hutong building into speakeasy club in beijing



following the guiding floor lights, and through the concealed glass doors, the space suddenly opens up, and guests reach the courtyard. ‘the word “quad house” has the meaning of a private place surrounded by other structures, as well as a square land surrounded by houses in east & west, south & north,’ notes nolan chao, ‘in addition to “sihe pinyin”, I use the word “quad”, which corresponds to the spatial layout of the building. this independent courtyard has two private rooms and a large bathroom in the north and south.’



for chao, the main objective has been to highlight the spirit of the place, the relationship between people and the environment, as well as with each other. ‘I set up a fireplace in a corner of the courtyard and connected the east and west gables with a linear lamp groove in the sky,’ he explains. ‘in the evening, the swaying flame reflects the light floating in the night sky. it synchronizes with the light emitted by the entrance and exit of the bar and the lamp groove in the arch of the bar, and evenly changes color, gently illuminating the courtyard. temperature and illumination reach the hearts of people at the same time, leaving an unforgettable breathing moment in this special area.’



the upper floor of the building, which was difficult to preserve during the renovation, encloses a large independent private room. ‘I used the steel structure to reinforce and build the second floor again, and made precise proportional control by referring to the number and size of ancient buildings,’ chao points out.

archistry transforms traditional hutong building into speakeasy club in beijing




project info:


name: quad house

architect: archistry design & research office

project location: beijing, china

principle architect: nolan chao

design team: nolan chao, na cheung , hou zeli, dai shengguo

gross floor area: 220 m2

interior floor area: 180 m2

construction: amrita workshop

video: yang bo

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