the design of ‘house W’ located in beijing, china has taken three years to complete, with numerous adjustments in between. the design team has invested great effort and the process has witnessed its own growth. as the owners of the project, the architect duo play both party A and party B during the design phase. the key is to clarify the expectations on living and to solve possible problems with absolute sincerity.

all images © sun haiting + chen hao



chinese based atelier about architecture’s design of ‘house W’ is challenged by two physical conditions at the beginning of the project. the temperature at the site is extremely low in winter because the building is rested with its back against the hillside, therefore the design team needs to ensure the heat preservation inside will be strong enough under cold weather to guarantee energy efficiency; it is also a tough job to meet the strict requirements on heat preservation and to create a humanistic environment in the building at the same time. in most circumstances, rooms will be arrayed along the four sides of the plan; therefore, the area in the center will barely share any sunlight and become inanimate and cold. the situation generally gets worse when the volume turns larger, which will bring more difficulties to the heating and ventilation.

AAA has to ensure heat preservation under cold weather to guaranteee energy efficiency



‘house W’ stands with its back against the hillside, allowing the cold air to scour along the north façade in winter. atelier about architecture has defined the program of the building as well as the size and position of the windows based on the site and sunlight. the outside walls are wrapped with 150mm insulation panels, plus the huge glass box in the atrium, providing continuous heat in winter. as proved by the experiment on the data collected in the first heating season, the temperature of the interior will reach an average level of 11 degrees in winter without turning on any heating equipment. meanwhile, cool air will be introduced from the basement and discharged from the inside as a result of natural airflow to reduce the indoor temperature.

the outside walls and the atrium are wrapped with 150mm insulation panels, providing continuous heat



atelier about architecture invites architecture and technology research institute of tsinghua university to carry out a half-year professional examination after the realization of ‘house W’ with the aspiration of building a passive house that completely meets international standards. the architects made careful measurements on each independent room according to the living habits, and have defined the volume of each space by a column width of 6 meters instead of blindly maximizing the space. in this blundering era with excessive visual information, architecture itself has become more and more pictorialized where people are more likely to be attracted by the photos of a building instead of the building itself. however, the real beauty of architecture, as well as the abstraction and the relevance of spaces, are beyond the expression by images. architecture can only be understood through personal experience.

about architecture creates a humanistic environment to achieve expectations on living



martin heidegger believed that poetic dwelling is not only about poetic watching, but also about living in poetry. the comfort of living is an evitable element in any time. in his article ‘ornament and crime’, austrian architect adolf loos advocated for removing ornaments from objects as he saw ornament as fraud. atelier about architecture is greatly inspired and therefore rejected all ornamental elements for visual impact in this project to ultimately present a sincere building that truly meets their expectation on living.

the volume of each space is defined by a column width of six meters 

architecture con only be understood through personal experience

all ornamental elements are rejected for visual impact to present a sincere building

green area during summer time 

there is little to none vegetation left strong enough to overcome the cold weather



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: apostolos costarangos | designboom

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news