Micro hostel with tiny concrete rooms installed by Zhang Ke in old Beijing hutong

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Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

Micro hostel with tiny concrete rooms installed by Zhang Ke in old Beijing hutong

Chinese architect Zhang Ke has slotted a hostel into one of Beijing's ancient hutong neighbourhoods, featuring tiny rooms that project at angles into a central courtyard. 

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photograph is by Wang Ziling

Ke and his Beijing studio ZAO/standardarchitecture created the 30-square-metre hostel as part of its ongoing Micro Hutong Renewal project.

The aim of this project is to highlight the potential in these traditional courtyard neighbourhoods – which are largely unique to the Chinese capital, but are gradually being demolished.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

It was important to the team that the project be sympathetic to the mismatched materiality of the ageing hutong, so they added a series of staggered rooms with a rough, irregular concrete finish.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photograph is by Wang Ziling

"The goal of this project – a 30 square metre hostel – is to search for possibilities of creating ultra-small scale social housing within the limitations of super-tight traditional hutong of Beijing" they explained.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

The hostel is constructed from concrete mixed with Chinese ink, which was poured in-situ and cast against wooden boards. These rough concrete surfaces are left exposed internally, and paired with matching wooden flooring.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

On the ground floor, rooms include kitchen and dining space, two bathrooms, and two connecting corridors.

Ladders leads upstairs, rather than space-hungry staircases. This upper level, contains a bedroom, a study and teahouse, and a terrace.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photograph is by Wang Ziling

These rooms are arranged so that they project out in a variety of angles into the courtyard, helping to bring in light and prevent the interiors feeling too cramped.

"Apart from enhancing the flow of air and light, the courtyard creates a direct relationship between the living space contained in the dynamic volumes and an urban vestibule in the front part of the building," said the team.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

Each room boasts a floor-to-ceiling window that faces onto the courtyard. In the ground floor rooms, these double as doors.

A multifunctional living space at the front of the hutong acts as a barrier between the private rooms and the street.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

This room is available for use by the hostel residents as well as members of the public. It is lined in a mix of wooden and metal boards that form shutters over the windows, and has an internally exposed timber framework.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

To bring the property in line with modern living standards, ZAO/standardarchitecture incorporated a central air conditioning system and underfloor heating.

There are also three openable skylights that allow air to circulate throughout the hostel.

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture

ZAO/standardarchitecture's previous Micro Hutong Renewal projects include children's play areas and co-working spaces.

But they aren't the only architects working to transform Beijing's hutongs. People's Architecture Office used prefabricated panels to create a contemporary, light-filled hutong house, while Space Modification Unit transformed an old property into a tea house.

Photography is by Wu Qingshan unless otherwise stated.


Project Credits

Architect: ZAO/standardarchitecture
Project Architects: Zhang Ke, Zhang Mingming
Design Team: Zhang Ke, Zhang Mingming, Huang Tanyu, Ao Ikegami, Dai Haifei

More images

Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Ground floor plan
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First floor plan
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Photograph is by Zhang Ming Ming
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Photograph is by Sun Yu
Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photography is by Wang Ziling
Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photograph is by Wang Ziling
Micro-Hutong by ZAO/standardarchitecture
Photograph is by Wang Ziling