MINOR lab transforms a hutong in beijing into a new office

MINOR lab transforms a hutong in beijing into a new office

to set a new office for the studio, the chinese MINOR lab has chosen a historical building in beijing of a traditional hutong typology —  a dwelling arranged around a square courtyard with an exit to a narrow loud street. resembling a vast container letting in the sky, wind, sunlight, air, and sound, the space with two trees in the middle features translucent rooms along the perimeter hosting all the necessary facilities.

courtyard view 
all images © chen hao



walls on either side of MINOR’s hutong prevent direct sunlight from getting inside, which can be seen as a boundary between public and private venues. the crowns of the two grand ginkgo trees serve as a flowing roof in the open air, overlapping layers of grey tiles. the exterior space under the trees connects to the interior one underneath the four roofs, floating and exchanging in a continuous way.

view from office space to the courtyard



the interior and exterior space are connected through transparent glass walls instead of a solid façade. using metal plates, and glass and acrylic boards, the main office space forms a showcase window and an exhibition area playing with light by creating reflections.

office space



the private spaces on the other side of the hutong — the guestroom, bathroom, kitchen, and café — feature a light and translucent interface made of steel frame, glass, and polycarbonate panel that guarantees proper privacy and thermal insulation, and softens the natural light indoor. it also varies the indoor scene with the changing sunlight and shade.

view from kitchen to courtyard and café library



‘we have chosen some common materials and leveraged simple craftsmanship in hutongs,’ explains the team. ‘this way, we have tried to harmonize new things and the initial scene and to create some new meanings. rather than just a workplace, this courtyard serves as a laboratory for us. we treat every object, tool, plant and a little animal with curiosity while working, exchanging, cooking, resting and walking around. by doing so, we are discovering how to place and interact with them properly’.

café library space


view from café library space to kitchen


view from café library to guestroom


view from entrance to guestroom


courtyard view from south to north


courtyard and guestroom




the original condition before rebuilt

project info:


location: dongcheng district, beijing

client and designer: minor lab

design team: liu chen, wang yi-chi, yeh ping-chen

floor area: 115 sqm

construction materials: galvanized steel, stainless steel, acrylic board, plywood, OSB, polycarbonate sheet, glass

project period: 2017.6-2017.9

photographer: chen hao


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

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    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

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    502,313 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample