Rural housing construction owes little to the State and household savings even enable to build private ownership. By allowing the purchase of materials from local manufacturers and artisans, self-built housing construction is prevalent in rural areas. Private property goes back to the agricultural reform of the 1950s, which did not succeed in establishing collective habitations, but reaffirmed the notion of private property as the expression of the work of the family. They are the homes of peasants – inherited or built with domestic savings. The courtyard house in North China constitutes a form of housing which is the result of a long process of interaction between the built form and social, economic, and cultural needs and habits. The task of building a new courtyard house required to examine and engage with modes of life in rural areas of Beijing. An extended analysis of the specific building type, the built environment, the social and historical context and finally the requirements for the new use were absolutely essential prior to the design process. In a preliminary study, the site and its previous buildings were retraced and documented through a graphic reconstruction to understand its layout and function. A timeline starting from the 1950s reveals the different states and transformations the site and buildings underwent. One of the most important characteristics of the courtyard house is its flexibility in accommodating growth and change.
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