A derelict courtyard residence gets revitalized with a sinuous, glass-walled pathway.
When Beijing-based firm ARCHSTUDIO first encountered this traditional residence in an old neighborhood, it "presented a bleak view," says the firm. The home, a siheyuan, is of a typology that typically comprises four buildings surrounding a courtyard. This particular property had seven pitched-roof buildings and three courtyards, but the former were dilapidated, the latter overgrown and filled with construction debris.
ARCHSTUDIO’s goals for the project were simple: "to renovate the old and insert the new." To that end, the project team first rehabilitated the old structures on the site, repairing surfaces and reinforcing key architectural elements, all with the aim of "reproducing the appearance of a traditional siheyuan," says the firm.
Before: Entry and Front Courtyard
After: Entry and Front Courtyard
With the most important architectural elements identified and rehabilitated, the team inserted new facilities, including a kitchen, bathrooms, and HVAC, and then tied everything together with a curvilinear, glass-enclosed veranda. "The veranda functions as a circulation route, reshapes the spatial pattern and layers, and provides a playful walking experience as well as fantastic views," says the firm.
The tile roofs of the traditional buildings were rebuilt, and the veranda was capped with a roof plane that sweeps beneath the eaves of the older structures, fluidly melding old and new.
Before: Middle Courtyard Roofs
After: Middle Courtyard Roofs
Before: Middle Courtyard
After: Middle Courtyard
Verandas are a "basic element of traditional Chinese architecture," says the firm. This modern iteration of the veranda was shaped to frame deliberate views and denote the function of the rooms within it. "It's closely combined with the curved edges of the pitched roofs, hence forming several arc-shaped transparent spaces, which integrate the houses, landscape, and the sky into the same picture," says the firm.
Material choices deftly blend old and new. For instance, the original pine framework of the traditional buildings was retained and repaired where needed. The new veranda, doors, windows, and some furniture were then fabricated from laminated bamboo panels—"a new material that looks like wood and feels like steel," says the firm—and echoes the original pine wood.
The team also reused building materials found at the site, from the gray bricks used to patch the old walls, to wood beams that were milled into new pieces of furniture.
Before: Back Courtyard
After: Back Courtyard
The back courtyard contains two bedroom suites, a tea room, and a study. "The veranda in this area has an undulating plane, which interacts with the three old trees that already existed in the courtyard and at the same time forms several small, arc-shaped leisure spaces," says the firm.