by inserting three new building units into an existing shell, OEU-ChaO architects has transformed this house in beijing’s xirongxian hutong into a cosy home for a couple and their young child. located in the second ring road of beijing city, china, the hutong is surrounded by a collection of typologies: towers, multistory residential districts, monumental buildings and reserved hutongs and courtyards.


with the only openings on the south facing wall, the original home was dark and poorly aerated
all images by cheng zhi

 

 

‘for the local people, they seem not worry about the vanishing of past experience or the relationship between daily life and memory’, explain OEU-ChaO architects. ‘they also pay little attention to the public spaces outside buildings by the street, and to what the relationship is between public and private. ‘isolation’: this is happening on the building scale.’ a 30 meter squared property, the hutong is sandwiched between five other houses. most of its exterior walls act as an interior wall in a neighbouring home, with the only door and window openings located on the south facing wall, resulting in very little natural light or air flow. 


the glass roofed porch creates a transitional space between the home and yard

 

 

‘the place is isolated from outside world’, continue the architects, ‘this condition is bad, especially for a such a tiny space’. in the small yard, a small exterior building belonging to a neighbour takes up much of the space, with debris and miscellaneous uses for the space confusing outside with in. ‘before the renovation, we can hardly tell that this is a yard and not a pathway.’


a 30 meter squared property, the hutong is sandwiched between five other houses

 

 

responding to its perceived ‘isolation’ of the space, three independent and easy to build units were introduced and integrated into the original building. intended as a gradation between public and private, outside and inside, these interventions aim to open the space, encouraging the movement of light and air as well as facilitating a natural flow of traffic. the first of these is a solar-roofed porch, creating an open lobby and transitional area as one journeys from the street inside. a double-slope roof gallery is then inserted into the home, effectively enlarging the façade and maximising existing light. 


intended as a gradation between public and private, outside and inside, these interventions aim to open the space

 

 

further bridging the gap between outside and in, a metal dining table is attached to either side of the hutong’s new glass façade, creating a liminal space of gathering. during warm weather, the architects imagine the windows being thrown open and events taking place here, integrating the yard into the activities of the home. the third building unit is the children’s room which is lofted onto a mezzanine level above the master bedroom.


a metal dining table is attached to either side of the hutong’s new glass façade, connecting inside and out

 

 

a new north facing sky-light further illuminates the home, establishing a connection between the north and south openings. robust wooden rafters frame and outline space, giving the hutong a cosy, cabin-like feeling. this, paired with the modern combination of wood, glass and metal, lends a distinctly scandinavian aesthetic to the micro-home that still manages to pay homage to the original structure. 


a double slope roof gallery enlarges the façade and maximises the existing light


the children’s bedroom is lofted onto a mezzanine level, overlooking the living area


wooden beams and rafters define the space, giving it a distinctly scandinavian feel 


‘the renovation’, states the studio, ‘is like remaking a prison cell into a living place’


exploded axonometric


plan 

 

 

project info:

 

location: xirongxian hutong beijing
type: house renovation
area: 32 m
project year: 2016
architect in charge: cheng, zhi
photography: cheng, zhi

 

 

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: peter corboy | designboom

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