the urban condition of ciqikou street in beijing, the site of chaoffice’s project, is semi-chaotic or could be described as a slum, which is a typical urban form in hutong areas today in beijing city. the local people have coined the term ‘messy yard’. the spatial condition of the ‘messy yard’ is completely different from its original form as a siheyuan yard. the way in which people have inhabited it has changed to a large degree over time. from a typological view, the messy yards area is more like other slums which can be found everywhere in the world, such as st paul, delhi, or istanbul. 

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
a rotatable window divides the ‘room for table’ into two independent rooms

 

 

chaoffice‘s strategy was to maintain the original structure on its original boundaries, in order to keep the relationship between house and environment. both windows and the door are modified in position and scale. a continuous canopy was installed. work within the boundary is about rearranging the spatial resources, in order to relink the prison-like space back to the city and nature. for the multiple aims, the strategy is about two ‘boxes’, ‘installations’ or ‘chambers’ in the original room. they are ‘room for table’ and ‘room for privacy’.

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the ‘room for table’ changed the boundary from a wall into a volume

 

 

the two sides are outside the public corridor and inside a private space. more generally, the table room changed the boundary from a wall into a volume. outside the volume, for recreating of part of the roof, there are new possibilities for windows, 3 meters high, which one can open for sunlight, but without the need to sacrifice privacy. the new structure is a construct inside the original wall, which has been strengthened. in addition, the reinforced concrete roof is stable enough for people’s weight. open views and plenty of sun light come together to create a pleasant space.

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
more lights from the recreating of boundary

 

 

inside the table room, double curtains function in several ways, controlling the light and privacy conditions. a rotatable window divides the room into two independent rooms — a kitchen and a studio. this plan meets the needs of the homeowner, as she loves to cook. when the window rotates, the table can be used on both sides — meaning the surface of the table can be fully utilized and shared by both rooms. the window below the roof and above the table also functioned as an access to the roof. the other side of the house is the private room, which is constructed by a light steel structure and plywood. this ‘chamber’ is more like a chinese traditional ‘babu bed’ which is both a bed and a bedroom. there are spaces for a bathroom, wardrobe, dressing room, etc.

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the table can be used on both sides. meaning the space on the table can be fully utilized and shared by both rooms

 

 

there is also a ‘roof space’ on the top of the bedroom which provides a personal space for the homeowner, who can have a rest, read or meditate there. most storage spaces are hidden under the table and bed. thus, the place between two rooms could be a totally empty space for functioning differently: like a party room, a family room, or a play room. according to the plan, functions within the house have been compressed into two defined spaces, leaving the centre completely free from the chaos which defined the house completely prior to the plan being enacted. this has thus provided a sense of dignity for those using the space, as well as a sense of comfort. the space can thus also be seen as a sequence, the home being subdivided into both spaces made up entirely of functional aspects as well as spaces defined by clarity.

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the reinforced concrete roof is stable enough for people’s weight

 

 

in addition, a small section near the entrance was repaved, creating a bridge between the home itself and its outer environment, as well as extending this sequence outward. the strategy is experimental, the installation of two ‘boxes’ cooperate with the original building, and at the same time keeping the relationship with its neighbours. 

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the window below the roof and above the table also functioned as an access to the roof

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the private room is constructed by a light steel structure and plywood

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the chamber is both a bed and a bedroom

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
there are spaces for a bathroom, wardrobe, dressing room, etc.

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
multiple land ownerships, illegally sold and bought property and occupation in history, disgracefully crowded

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
the strategy is renovating the original structure on its original boundaries very careful, in order to keep the relationship between house and environment

 

chaoffice renovates a hutong house in beijing creating two boxes apartment
two boxes”, installations or chambers in the original room

 

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: maria erman | designboom