caopu documents humble hostel with cartoons of local characters for BJDW 2014
all images courtesy of caopu




chinese architect caopu has documented transforming an empty hutong into the ‘humble hostel’ project through a series of cartoon drawings of the area’s locals and a model of the site. the work is on display at quanyechang in dashilar during ‘BJDW beijing design week 2014’.


the exhibition shows a range of different personalities caopu encountered along the way, which includes ‘the know-it-all’, ‘the crisis granny’, ‘enthusiastic aunty’, old man glasses’ and many more. wanting to cooperate peacefully with these residents, the designers came up with a flexible layout. the humble proposal enables the rooms to vary according to the number of guests, with the area beneath the roof used as a bar and a place for neighbors to store their bikes.

the humble hostel project is inserted into an old hutong alleyway



the chosen yard was already occupied with small kitchens that had been built by neighbors, multiple bicycles and piles of random junk. by scattering individual rooms throughout this space, the proportion of indoor and outdoor areas can be changed by a set of sliding walls that each contain a bed, desk and door.


‘this approach adapts an architectural method that is specifically appropriate for a hutong alleyway.’ says caopu.

the designers resolved a flexible layout that accommodates the surrounding site



‘after many setbacks, we finally settled on an empty one room house in a lively courtyard. a portion of the homes in this courtyard had already been replaced or expanded into larger homes. the resulting courtyard is now a maze of narrow pathways littered with random debris, a fish tank, flower pots, etc…’ says caopu.

the spaces can vary according to the number of guests



‘while searching for a space to create and test our sample unit, we encountered ‘the know-it-all’. he was in the hutong complaining to everybody and anybody about how the brick-laying method is a cheap imitation of techniques (bricks layered and the unevenness sealed together with grout) used centuries ago.’ says caopu.




‘wanting to place the unit in the middle of a courtyard proved to be very difficult due to protests from surrounding neighbours. we eventually found a suitable space where a kind ‘old granny’ and ‘calligraphy guy’ helped to clear out the debris.’ says caopu.



cartoon characters, including one of caopu


the local characters are used to tell the story of the design