archstudio references traditional chinese urban dwelling in modern courtyard villa

archstudio references traditional chinese urban dwelling in modern courtyard villa

archstudio’s courtyard villa is situated on a flat site in the suburbs of hebei, china. surrounded by an orchard, farmland and rivers, the site boasts beautiful landscapes, the perfect backdrop for the project. there was originally a wooden house on the site, with a typical structure commonly found a decade ago, that was demolished by the owner to build a new leisure and vacation home.




the architects took the form from traditional chinese courtyard dwellings. inspired by siheyuan, a kind of traditional chinese residence, the house immitates the inward-facing structure, with buildings arranged around a central courtyard. the exterior of the siheyuan is closed while the interior courtyard is completely open, offering little privacy for the occupants.




the design team arranged four rooms on different sides, scattering them through the lot and added a roof to the courtyard. the courtyard was then turned into a hall, and its exteriors transparent and open. this way, the hall blends with the pleasant outdoor scenery, and ensures the privacy of individual living spaces and openness for reception activities.




the entire architecture is based on the pedestal, with the four rooms independently set on four corners, together outlining the boundary of the house. the four rooms are all inward-facing, and each of them contains a yard inside. with different scales, those yards bring landscape and natural light into the interiors.




the house consists of private living areas and service spaces, including bedrooms, study, kitchen, and equipment room, all of which are separate from one another to avoid interference. the four rooms jointly support a pitch roof, under which is a flexible public area for accommodating various activities such as reception, dining and piano playing. due to the transparent glass windows and doors, public activities can be extended to the outdoor terraces on four sides, where people can enjoy the refreshing greenery.




archstudio played with the relationship between space, structure and materials, trying to present the natural beauty of the materials based on the characteristics of rural leisure space. all rooms use steel framework and concrete slabs, with the wooden formwork of the in-situ concrete slabs exposed in the interior spaces. 




beige shale bricks were utilized to construct the walls made of two vertical layers of bricks, with a thermal insulation layer in between. the intermediate layer improves the thermal performance, ensures identical material texture of the interior and exterior brick walls, and hides framework as well as pipes and wires of equipment.




in the inner yards, large areas of the brick walls are hollow, hence allowing natural air ventilation and light penetration. pedestal surfaces, either inside or outside, are also paved with beige bricks. the pitched roof of the public area adopts wooden ribbed beams, with the rooftop clad in charred wood tiles. the combination of wood and bricks produces an austere, warm and natural interior ambience. in addition, the fireplace, dining table and piano further identify different public activity areas. the house is capable of hosting many activities in different types of areas, meanwhile keeping them separate, light and airy. 



project info:


project location: tangshan, hebei, china

site area: 820 m2

project area: 265 m2

main materials: brick, wood, glass

design phase: may 2017 – august 2017

construction phase: june 2018 – january 2019

design firm: archstudio 

chief designer: han wenqiang

architectural & interior design: jiang zhao, hu bo

structural design: zhang yong

electrical & plumbing design: zheng baowei

hvac consultation: jaga

photography: wang ning



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: cristina gomez | designboom

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