LocationGongmenkou 4th Alley, Xicheng District, Beijing, China
Principle ArchitectTiantian Xu
Construction Drawing DesignChina Academy of Building Research
Lighting DesignZhang Xin Studio, Architecture Department of Tsinghua University
Structure SystemHybrid Structure
ClientBeijing Hua Rong Jin Ying investment & Development Co. Ltd.
Text description provided by the architects. Over 700 hundreds years ago, a 50 meters-tall giant white Pagoda with its Nepal Buddhist temple – Baitasi - was built in ancient Beijing. Ever since then this temple and pagoda have merged into the surrounding hutongs and courtyards living with religious ceremonies and activities and eventually became part of the historical context for contemporary Beijing.
This giant white volume brings dynamic magnetism into the typical hutong fabric and courtyard life and is the most important context in our design for converting a 2-story cement residential building into a hutong gallery in the Baitasi area.
Most of the cement residential buildings in this area were built after 1980s, when some local residents tore down courtyards to larger living area and a modern lifestyle. Cement block buildings have become a common typology with a larger scale than courtyards in hutong fabric. A conversion from residential into a public program including a gallery and three artist residencies will host community exhibitions and facilitate artists living and working in Baitasi hutong area, introduce new elements to integrate with local community, and bring a new transforming process into the region.
Under the hutong preservation regulations, the building volume will remain intact, the original structure and layout will be reorganized to fit in new programs that include a double height gallery facing north, a salon and office on ground level and artist rooms above. In order to achieve sufficient light quality, a system of vertical voids is inserted into this dense block. Two corner yards are brought back for light and air, open to the sky and neighbor’s tree canopy, as well as reintroducing traditional the courtyard context. Skylights peeling off from the roof or floor corners are another light strategy. Both corner yards and skylights are articulated with curve segments, indicating a continuous circulation. This is also a reflection of the experience when walking in the Baitasi hutong area. The visual of the pagoda is cut on and off by hutong scale and orientation. The curve fragments of form and light in this white interior bring the memory of pagoda into the dark grey cement block. The rooftop is open up as a public platform with a plant pavilion configured from vertical voids. The articulation of the plant pavilion will add in another layer into hutong skyline of cables and tree canopies.
The building is a connection of historical context with future programs and will provide new possibilities into the hutong community life.
This project is located in Baitasi which is a historical and cultural preservation zone in Xicheng district and adjoins Luxun Museum. Originally, the main function of the building is residence, and we re-organize the space as an art space including artist's residence, studio, public exhibition hall.
Based on original structure, the building is divided into two parts, artist's living area in the south and public exhibition space in the north. Meanwhile, according to the site context, two outside courtyards are inserted into the design which can play with nature light and shadow. Inside the building, gaps between structural components are reserved consciously to import light and are designed integrally with the greenery on the floor to create vertical natural corners.
To meet requirements of living, functional programs are inserted into the south part of the building. Study room, dining area and salon are on the ground floor, and bedrooms are on the first floor connecting with studio which is located in the north part. The rest part of north area is public exhibition space where the slab is cut to create different space height. Meanwhile, two courtyards connect with this space. Besides that, major walls of indoor space extend to the rooftop and define the plot of roof garden. According to the boundary of roof and other structural components, transparent glass are erected to define public area on the roof.
Batasi is the testimony of solid history and culture. The curves and white colour of the scheme spread the image of Bai Ta. The shading structure twined by plants reflects the living atmosphere of Hutong. Influencing by the cultural factors, historical factors as well as current context, the area will be renewed organically as a museum of Hutong.