Zhang Ke slots work and play spaces into Beijing's hutong courtyards
Tags:

Search results:

Zhang Ke slots work and play spaces into Beijing's ancient hutong courtyards

Through a series of renovations and new insertions, Chinese architect Zhang Ke has transformed some of Beijing's ageing hutongs into hubs of activity.

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
The Micro Hutong Renewal project aims to highlight the potential in Beijing's hutong neighbourhoods

Zhang Ke and his studio ZAO/standardarchitecture embarked on the Micro Hutong Renewal project to highlight the potential in these hutong neighbourhoods – which are largely unique to the Chinese capital, but are gradually being demolished.

The aim is to show how the traditional courtyard properties can be adapted to create resources for local communities, ranging from children's play areas to co-working spaces.

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
The courtyard neighbourhoods are largely unique to the Chinese capital, but are gradually being demolished

"The subtle complexity of the hutong as an authentic urban space has been overlooked both by developers, who most of the time prefer to see it as a tabula rasa so that they can build more square meters, and by the defenders of picturesque historic preservation," said Ke.

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
The goal is to show how the traditional courtyard properties can be adapted to create resources for local communities

"The Micro Hutong Renewal projects, by avoiding the usual methods of hutong restoration, aim to explore the potential of hutongs and courtyards as a generator of communal space and catalyst of social interaction," he added.

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
The first project involved the transformation of Cha'er Hutong, a former temple converted into residences in the 1950s

The first project involved the transformation of Cha'er Hutong, a 300-400 year-old hutong near Tiananmen Square.

Known locally as a da-za-yuan, which translates as big messy courtyard, the courtyard once housed a temple. But it was adapted into residences in the 1950s, with each family adding its own ad-hoc kitchen in the courtyard.

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Here, Ke's team added a plywood and concrete children's library that slots under an existing roof canopy

In the same spirit, Ke's team added new structures into the courtyard – a plywood and concrete children's library that slots under an existing roof canopy, and an outdoor staircase that functions as a viewing platform.

The architects also renovated one of the old kitchens to create a six-square-metre art gallery.

chaer-hutong-childrens-library-and-art-centre-beijing-china-by-zao-standardarchitecture-and-zhang-ke_dezeen_2364_col_16
The Cha'er Hutong project is currently on show as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

The Cha'er Hutong project was completed two years ago as part of the 2014 edition of Beijing Design Week and is currently also on show as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.

micro-hutong-2364_ss_2
In 2015, the studio also unveiled another Micro Hutong project in Beijing's Dashilar District – a flexible "urban living room" consisting of overlapping plywood boxes

But Ke's team has since completed two other projects. In 2015, the studio unveiled another project in Beijing's Dashilar District – a flexible "urban living room" consisting of overlapping plywood boxes.

And, for Beijing Design Week this year, they presented a co-living concept. They divided up a 150-square-metre courtyard in Baitasi to create homes in two sizes – one eight-square-metre micro-home, and one large space that served as an exhibition space during the design event.

micro-hutong-2364_ss_1
And, for Beijing Design Week this year, they presented a co-living concept in Baitasi

"The project aims to explore co-living possibilities between public and private in the traditional courtyard structure, and it challenges ways of infrastructure integration in limited space to create decent new hutong life," said Ke.

micro-hutong-2364_ss_3
The studio divided up a 150-square-metre courtyard to create homes in two sizes – with the largest serving as an exhibition gallery

Micro Hutong Renewal is one of the six winners of this year's Aga Khan Award for Architecture – one of the world's most lucrative architecture prizes.

The project follows on from a series of others looking at new ways to adapt Beijing's hutongs.

People's Architecture Office developed a panelling system for building temporary living spaces in the courtyards, while MAD designed a series of bubble-shaped additions.

More images and plans

Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Site plan
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Ground floor plan
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Section one
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Section two
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Section three
Cha'er Hutong Children's Library and Art Centre
Section four