hutong phenomenon: wonder architects expands on the traditional confines of beijing architecture

hutong phenomenon: wonder architects expands on the traditional confines of beijing architecture

wonder architects deal with the unique needs and restrictions of a traditional hutong in the west of china’s massive capital. the beijing-based studio’s efforts form part of a phenomenon, seeing contemporary architects breathe new life into these graceful houses, which since the 1950s have been threatened by the country’s rapid modernisation.


in their place nondescript concrete block and mega-complexes signal towards a 21st century china uninterested in the preservation of what’s left of beijing’s hutongs. however, over the past decade a new generation of architects has stepped into campaign for their preservation.

all images © sun haiting



tasked with rethinking the boundaries and expanding the possibilities of this forgotten architecture, wonder architects aim was to produce a space which was light, airy, and modern. using the framework provided by the traditional structure, they redesigned the layout of the suite into different units before reconstructing each one to suit their contemporary vision.



the new construction creates such extreme contrast to the original one that visitors are led into a spatial adventure. they once communal courtyard is transformed for private residence, meanwhile one vertical space is split into multiples, twisting the counterpoint relationship between space and landscape, public and private.



under limited dimensions, the architects wanted to demonstrate the tendency of using functional space to ‘collect’ and deliberately create unconventional views of beijing’s daily scenes. by using white as a predominant color they mark their influence, creating a white canvas backdrop bringing the space into a pure state.



to blur the line between the interior and the exterior, wonder architects used stone to create collisions between architecture and nature. resembling mountains and canyons, materials such as glass intersect their mass as if the building was built into the bottom of a quiet, peaceful valley.



project info:


project location: beijing, china

completion year: 2017

lead architects: zhu qipeng

team: yanpeng, yuan yingzi

client: ye xianfeng

landscape design: ding li

lighting design: ding zhiqiang

photo credits: sun haiting


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

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