CIPEA No.4 House / AZL architects

© Yao Li

Architects: AZL architects
Location: , Jiangsu Province, China
Architect In Charge: Zhang Lei
Design Team: Zhang Lei, Jeffrey Cheng, Wang Wang, Wang Yi
Collaborator: Architectural Design & Planning Institute, NJU
Area: 500 sqm
Year: 2008
Photographs: Yao Li

© Yao Li

Situated in Laoshan Forest to the west of central Nanjing city, China International Practical Exhibition of Architecture (CIPEA) began in 2003 to bring twenty-four renowned international & domestic architects together onto one site.  CIPEA consist of four public buildings and twenty small houses, in accordance with the brief, the houses should have at least five bedrooms, public spaces, and hospitality accommodations on 500 square meters.

© Yao Li

The Number Four “Blockhouse” sits on a particularly valley site, nestling the house into the landscape.  In the spirit of a pagoda, four cubic floors are stacked vertically, allowing for minimal site excavation and land use.  The ground floor features living and dining spaces quietly enveloped in the surrounding forest and overlooking a stream, and a communal roof terrace rises to just above the trees.  The roof merges into the landscape as another living space, complete with pool and wooden deck within the panorama of the forest.  The geometric shape is sculpted from concrete and finished in a white protection surface.

© Yao Li

The concept of Blockhouse is almost the living attitude of many Chinese: a minimal opening to the surrounding landscape is the only perforation of the richness inside the house.  The horizontal break of each floor—in combination with larger unique curved apertures on each floor—frame vistas in the spirit of Chinese landscape scrolls.  Prescribed views have a long tradition in Chinese art history and traditional Chinese gardens, designed to make the viewer reconsider and contemplate the landscape.

First Floor Plan
Cite: "CIPEA No.4 House / AZL architects" 05 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Yanco AL Simental AL

    Me Gusta mucho

  • Wayne

    Zhang Lei is my favorite Chinese architect. Yet I don’t think this work demonstrates his capability. If one looks at the interior view, the long horizontal gap between the exterior concrete walls is so slim that one can barely see much natural view outside. In the article, the designer explains that the gaps “frame vistas in the spirit of Chinese landscape scrolls. ” Frankly, I don’t buy it.

    • boyuanjie

      just imagine, only through these small gap of the whole dark concrete wall you will see the light, feel the wind, tough the nature…It is another opposite way to try to communicate between people and landscape, not the normal way of puting a huge glas facade there. Maybe you don’t like it, but his bold attempt got his reason:living attitude of many Chinese(at least the client’s)

    • David Basulto

      Great project, and great architect.

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  • aaa

    Can someone explain me, for who is that building? Because from article i don’t understand.

    • rx

      a villa

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