Although the original structure—which sits in the east-central area of the Shaanxi region—was in a state of severe disrepair, the Beijing–based architecture firm hyperSity was able to beautifully reimagine the site into a contemporary, stylish residence.
The site originally consisted of a large barrel-vaulted volume and a front courtyard, which contained a cluster of three smaller properties.
To start the transformation, the architects demolished the original structure, opening the courtyard entirely.
They then set about rebuilding the perimeter wall for both structural support and privacy. The decision to opt for rammed earth as a building material was historically significant, as it reflected the local building customs.
To help reduce the project's costs, clay and sand from the neighboring mountains were used for the renovation. These materials not only provided practical support for the cave, but they'll also assist in keeping the home's temperature regulated throughout the coming seasons.
The design strategy for the renovation ensured every room would be well-ventilated, as well as bright and airy. While the northern section was preserved, the transformation of the courtyard brought forth new spaces, such as a kitchen, dining room, bathroom, and a few bedrooms.
The architects converted the original cave into the primary living room, while also designing a bedroom for the client's grandmother in the space.
Despite the overall renovation, it was the large southern courtyard that underwent the most transformation, as five separate volumes were constructed, along with five open-air courtyards.