Shixiao Road, Tongzhou District, Beijing
Designed by Han Wenqiang and Li Xiaoming of ARCHSTUDIO with landscape consultation by Wild Botanical Lab, Mixed House is the transformation of a village house outside Beijing into a modern residence that retains old structures and adds new constructions.
The house is located in an ordinary village on the outskirts of Beijing, a typical northern Chinese village mainly composed of one- and two-story courtyard houses.
Most houses in the village face south, and feature red bricks and tiles.
Additionally, there are various added constructions built independently by local villagers for meeting their changing living needs, such as shanties with colored steel roofs or glass roofs, which blend with the natural fabrics of the village.
The project is the transformation of a courtyard house in the village for a client who currently lives in the downtown area and wanted to create a family vacation home and a place for gathering with friends.
Approaching this project, ARCHSTUDIO intended to present an architectural status that mixes the old and new and to build a connection between the project and the built landscape of the village.
The goal was to let the renovated architecture integrate into the village with a low-profile gestures, while creating a rich and natural small world inside the courtyard house.
The original architecture is a courtyard compound, consisting of two courtyards, two pitched-tile-roof buildings, and several flat-roof volumes.
After site investigation, the design team decided to retain and properly transform the north building, which was frequently used and in good structural condition; to renovate and preserve the south building, which had old structures with historical value; and to dismantle other auxiliary volumes built for temporary use.
The new addition is an undulating wooden construction, which replaces the old rooms in the middle of the site and extends to the north and south sides to create spaces for daily use, hence shaping a new pattern for the courtyard compound.
The new wooden volume undulates in line with the old roofs and forms two continuous roof ridges, under which major living spaces including the living room, dining room, and kitchen are found.
In addition, two flat-roof building blocks are extended under the roof of the wooden construction, accommodating ancillary functions including two bedrooms, a garage, and a bathroom.
For the old building on the north side, the design team exposed its roof structures and set two bedrooms and a living room in its interior space.
The insertion of the new wooden construction strengthens the undulating layering of the roofs and creates a dialogue between the old and new building volumes.
The original spatial pattern featuring one front yard and one back yard is reorganized to form six yards with different scales, landscapes, and functions.
The front yard is set at the southwest core of the site.
Opening the metal gate, a bamboo path leads the occupants to the building entrance.
Pushing open the door and entering the foyer, a courtyard with a maple tree comes into view.
The maple tree displays the colors of nature in different seasons, and becomes a highlighted view between the living room and the dining room.
Space set aside between the living room and the south enclosure wall forms a side yard, where trees and stones are placed.
On sunny days, the folding doors of the living room can be completely opened to extend the yard into the interior.
Further north, one reaches the renovated old building where the kitchen and the dining room unfold horizontally and the old and new roof structures are in dialogue with each other.
Between the dining room and the walls of a neighbor’s house is a bamboo yard, which offers the experience of eating and drinking in a bamboo grove.
The backyard is mainly for outdoor activities and is connected by a semi-outdoor veranda.
Planted with a big tree, it provides a pleasing place for leisure and chatting.
The north building and the wooden construction are connected by a glass corridor, which naturally forms a narrow yard.
The three bedrooms provide a direct view of the outdoor landscape, satisfy daylighting and ventilation needs, and meanwhile avoid obstructed sight lines.
The organization of various yards brings natural vitality into every corner of the interior space.
The newly built wooden construction adopts cedar plywood as its main material and applies traditional beam-lifted frames, to echo the features of traditional northern Chinese houses.
By fully utilizing plywood, a low-carbon and renewable natural building material, the newly inserted wooden construction continues the existing old house’s wooden frame with new structural expressions, hence creating a dialogue between the old and the new.
Moreover, the undulating new roof is constructed with beams and columns featuring minimized cross sections and maximized spans, to ensure a reasonable structure and control costs.
Doors and windows employ fixed insulating glass and openable frames made of laminated bamboo panels.
The solid window frames help improve ventilation, and the fixed glass panes provide complete outdoor views
The newly built enclosure walls are completely made of red and gray bricks that were recycled locally.
While renovating the existing buildings, the design team decided to remove and polish the white ceramic tiles on the exterior of the preserved north building to expose its red-brick walls.
The ground is paved with new red bricks, which perform better in resisting water and dust.
Rooftops are clad in red vermiculite-coated metal tiles, which are lightweight, cost-saving, and have a long life span.
The red surfaces of those metal tiles harmonize with the red roofing tiles commonly seen in the village.
By creating yards, updating structures, and reusing materials, the design team tried to invent a sustainable design strategy for the evolution from the old to the new.
The home strikes a balance in maintaining characteristics, coordinating styles, and controlling costs to create new possibilities for the renewal of rural architecture.
Project: Mixed House
Lead designers: Han Wenqiang and Li Xiaoming
Participating designers: Guo Jiangang and Meng Gangyu Structural Consultants: Beijing Xinnan Senmu Structural Engineering Co., Ltd.
MEP Consultants: Zheng Baowei and Li Dongjie, Zhang Yingnan
Landscape Architects: Wild Botanical Lab
General Contractor: Beijing Xinnan Senmu Structural Engineering Co., Ltd.
Photographers: Jin Weiqi