archstudio enlivens courtyard house in beijing with new, multipurpose wooden extension

archstudio enlivens courtyard house in beijing with new, multipurpose wooden extension

‘mixed house’ by archstudio 


On the outskirts of Beijing, in a typical plain-based northern Chinese village, sits the ‘Mixed House,’ a renovated courtyard residence by Archstudio. The client, currently living in the downtown area, hoped to create a family vacation home and a venue for gathering with friends.


‘The resulting design is an architectural status that mixes the old and new, building a connection between the project and the built landscape of the village. The goal was to let the renovated house integrate into the village with a low-profile gesture, and meanwhile to create a rich and natural small world inside the courtyard house,’ explains the team. 

mixed house by archstudio transformation of a rural residence in the suburb of beijing 5

all images © Jin Weiqi



a new wooden structure with a 6-yard outdoor design 


The original architecture of ‘Mixed House’ by Archstudio reveals a compound with two courtyards, two pitched-tile-roof buildings, and several flat-roof volumes. After a careful site study, the design team decided to retain and adequately transform the north building, which was still in good structural condition. The south building, an old historic structure, had to be renovated and preserved as well. All auxiliary volumes built for temporary use were dismantled in the process.


Complementing the existing / retained structure is a new architectural addition, built as an undulating wooden construction that replaces the old rooms in the middle of the site. It also extends northwards and southwards to create spaces for daily life use, ultimately shaping a new pattern for the courtyard compound.

mixed house by archstudio transformation of a rural residence in the suburb of beijing 6

the new wooden construction creates a harmonious extension of the original structure



Furthermore, the new wooden volume undulates in line with the old roofs and forms two continuous roof ridges, under which sit large living spaces, including a living room, dining room, and kitchen. In addition, two flat-roof building blocks extend under the roof of the wooden construction, accommodating ancillary functions — two bedrooms, a garage, and a bathroom.


For the old building on the north side, the design team exposed its roof structures and set it up with two bedrooms and a living room. ‘The insertion of the new wooden construction strengthens the undulating layering of the roofs and creates a dialogue between the old and new building volumes,’ notes Archstudio

mixed house by archstudio transformation of a rural residence in the suburb of beijing 1

using only plywood for the newly built features seamlessly fuses old and new



As for the exterior, the architects reorganized the original dual space to form six yards with different scales, landscapes, and functions. Starting at the front yard, a bamboo path leads occupants to the building entrance when opening the metal gate. Pushing the door and entering the foyer, a courtyard with a maple tree comes into view, displaying a seasonal change of colors and becoming a focal point between the living and dining rooms.


The space between the living room and the south enclosure wall forms a side yard, where trees and stones take over. On sunny days, the folding doors of the living room can be completely opened, bringing the yard indoors. Moving further towards the north, owners can reach the renovated old building where kitchen and dining unfold horizontally, creating yet another dialogue of old and new.

mixed house by archstudio transformation of a rural residence in the suburb of beijing 2

dining room area overlooking a bamboo yard in the ‘Mixed House’ by Archstudio



Between the dining room and walls of a neighboring house, a bamboo yard offers the experience of eating and drinking in a bamboo grove. After crossing that area, the owners reach the backyard, mainly reserved for outdoor activities and connected to a semi-open veranda. Populated by a big tree, it provides a pleasant spot for leisure and chatting.


Finally, the space at the back hosts a more private function; the bedroom area. This part of the ‘Mixed House’ provides a direct view of the outdoor landscape, satisfies daylighting and ventilation needs, and avoids obstructed sight lines. As the studio puts it, ‘the organization of various yards brings natural vitality into every corner of the interior space.’

mixed house by archstudio transformation of a rural residence in the suburb of beijing 3

kitchen area and dining room unfold horizontally



using renewable, recycled, and low-carbon materials


Archstudio built the new wooden extension using cedar plywood as the main material and applied traditional beam-lifted frames to recall traditional northern Chinese houses. By only using plywood, a low-carbon, and renewable natural material, the wooden construction smoothly extends the existing house frame with new structural expressions. Moreover, the undulating new roof is constructed with beams and columns featuring minimized cross sections and maximized spans to ensure a reasonable structure and control costs.


Doors and windows comprise fixed insulating glass and openable frames made of laminated bamboo panels. The solid window frames help improve ventilation, while the fixed glass panes frame expansive outdoor views. Meanwhile, all indoor furniture pieces are customized using laminated bamboo panels.

archstudio enlivens courtyard house in beijing with new, multipurpose wooden extension
the newly built enclosure walls are made entirely of red and gray old bricks recycled locally



When renovating the existing structures of ‘Mixed House,’ Archstudio opted to remove and polish the white ceramic tiles on the exterior of the preserved north building to expose its red-brick walls. As for the south building, Archstudio discovered severe damages to its original roofing structures and noticed that its walls were at the risk of collapse. The roof was therefore taken apart to replace some of its old wooden components with new ones. Meanwhile, the walls were rebuilt using old gray bricks, consistent with their original forms.


The ground is paved with new red bricks, better resistant to water and dust. Rooftops are clad in red vermiculite-coated metal tiles, which are lightweight, cost-saving, and have a long life span. The red surfaces of those metal tiles harmonize with the red roofing tiles commonly seen in the village. By creating yards, updating structures, and reusing materials, the design team tried to instill a sustainable design strategy in rural architecture that gently fuses old and new.

archstudio enlivens courtyard house in beijing with new, multipurpose wooden extension

bedroom area







project info:


name: Mixed House 

location: Shixiao Road, Tongzhou District, Beijing, China

plot area: 576 sqm

gross floor area: 373 sqm

building height: 5m

design phase: 10.2020 – 04.2021

construction phase: 04.2021 – 04.2022
architecture: Archstudio

lead designers: Han Wenqiang, Li Xiaoming 

participating designers: Guo Jiangang, Meng Gangyu (intern) 

structural consulting: Beijing Xinnan Senmu Structural Engineering Co., Ltd. 

MEP consulting: Zheng Baowei, Li Dongjie, Zhang Yingnan 

landscape consulting: Wild Botanical Lab 

construction: Beijing Xinnan Senmu Structural Engineering Co., Ltd. 

main materials: plywood, brick, laminated bamboo panel 

photography: Jin Weiqi 




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: lea zeitoun | designboom

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