Text description provided by the architects. The conversion of No. 28 Dayuan Hu Tong, titled ‘Miniature Beijing’, which is an Atelier Li Xinggang’s recent project completed in 2017, is located in the old city area of Beijing.
A common courtyard house of 262sqm is transformed into five apartments with self-contained courtyards, as well as a public space that host café and tea house.
Turning from the noisy urban commercial streets into the peaceful and leisurely Hu Tong district, then through the outside main Hu Tong to a semi-external ally way and a further smaller lane, separate paths lead to the north and south courtyard apartments of different size and configurations.
Several linear concrete structural / spacial units form the elemental spacial formation within the entire courtyard complex. Each contains a courtyard that is varied in size and shape.
The main living room of each apartment is spacious and bright, benefits from the view of the garden.
Travelling further south along the main ally way, passing the café and tea house, visitors reach the small public garden at the rear and arrive at the platform of the pavilion elevated above the courtyard via a set of concrete steps on the side.
With the setting sun as the backdrop, the profound scenery composed of stacked roofs in the old city, ancient trees, flying pigeons and the new city high-rises in the distance bring visitors into much contemplation.
This small experimental project is a design practice that combined old urban renewal, courtyard renovation and ideal home.
Based on the study of traditional Beijing’s complex urban structure, and with the understanding and utilizing of its extended and densified structure, the crowded courtyard house was transformed to collective small courtyard dwellings by the method of fractal densification.
The layout of “house-garden” and “public unit” fit in the structure of contemporary society, turning the courtyard house into a “miniature community”.
The technical design of minimum sized dwelling serves the spiritual build of “house-garden harmonization”, and bringing the experience of daily poetic and urban scenery into “ideal living environment” by space narration.
The individual case responds to the “three problems” of Beijing’s old urban renewal, and investigates the possibility of it extending into wider ranges of communities and urban space, and recovering the “self-generating opportunity” of Beijing’s old urban.