humble hostel’s movable wall gives space back to tiny hutong courtyard
photography by cao youtao

 

 

 

in the historic hutong area of beijing’s dashilar district, chinese architect cao pu has opened the ‘humble hostel’ — a 12 square meter accommodation space built inside a vacant hutong house. cao pu presented the finished scheme during beijing design week 2015, which features a clever, adaptable architectural plan that gives space back to the existing courtyard — a important social site for members of the local community. now, after more than a year of research and development into the lifestyle of the surrounding residents, the maximum space allowed for renovation and habitation, and the ways in which small sites can be adapted for comfortable living, the ‘humble hostel’ is open to guests, available for booking on airbnb for approximately 14 euros per night. 

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
the entrance to the ‘humble hostel’ is located through a small red door in beijing’s dashilar hutong

 

 

the existing courtyard was already occupied by many small kitchens, parked bicycles, and piles of stored belongings, offering hardly any space for residents and visitors to walk through — a common feature of hutong life.

 

in order to provide more space to the residents living within the inner courtyard area, cao pu used a set of sliding walls — each of which house a bed, desk, and door — that move the entire hostel further away or closer to the yard. the dwelling serves to continuously change the proportion of indoor and outdoor space based on the current need. when there are few guests at the hostel, some space can be given back to the courtyard by sliding the doors around to compensate for the area already occupied by the kitchens. when the hostel is full, there is still enough space to accommodate all guests. the adaptable design creates some much needed breathing space within a chaotic hutong yard life and the ‘given back’ area beneath the roof can be used for public leisure, housing a tea table, a card room or a bar, in addition to a space for the neighbors to store their bicycles.

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
sliding walls move the entire hostel further away or closer to the yard

 

 

 

many interesting scenarios and stories took place during the design and construction process, including the change of the scheme, the stoppage of work and even the modification of the original design due to complaining and uncooperative neighbors. these quirky characters and unexpected events were documented by cao pu in a series of illustrations and cartoon figures, which were presented alongside a model during beijing design week 2014 (previously featured by designboom here). the exhibition presented a range of different personalities cao pu encountered along the way, humorously nicknamed with titles like ‘the crisis granny’, ‘the know-it-all’ and ‘enthusiastic aunty’.

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
space is available for booking on airbnb for approximately 14 euros per night

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
the dwelling serves to continuously change the proportion of indoor and outdoor space

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
the adaptable design creates some much needed breathing space within a chaotic hutong yard life

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
ladders allow guests access to the second level of space

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
when the hostel is full, there is still enough space to accommodate all guests.

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
the tiny unit can be moved forward and backward depending on the guests staying there

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
a workspace and bathroom are integrated into the interior plan

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
guests sleep on a bunk located at the top level of the renovated hutong house

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
an office space offers an area for leisure and work

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
the adaptable design creates some much needed breathing space within a chaotic hutong yard life

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
multiple levels allow for a number of guests to comfortably sit inside

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
 the ‘given back’ area beneath the roof can be used for public leisure, housing a tea table, a card room or a bar

cao-pu
a gif shows the movement of the walls

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
architectural plan shows the bathroom, movable wall and ‘given back’ space

beijing design week 2015 humble-hostel-mobile-wall-hutong-courtyard-dalishar
architectural drawings indicate ways in which guests can sleep within the hostel

BJDW-logo

 

once again, designboom and designboom china are media partners of BJDW. beijing design week 2015 (september 23rd to october 7th) is an annual citywide event co-hosted by national ministries and the municipal government of beijing during the national day holiday every year in beijing. attracting over 2,000 designers, institution representatives and industry experts, over 5 million visitors, and more than 100 accredited news media in attendance every year, BJDW is the largest and most influential platform in asia for display, promotion, exchange and trading of creative designs.