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House of Steps / Chaoffice

House of Steps / Chaoffice

Steps and platforms in yards. Image © Yumeng Zhusteps and platforms both inside and outside Perspective from main livingroom. Image © Zhi ChengThe entrance hall. Image © Yumeng ZhuThe C room on top of the yard. Image © Yumeng Zhu+ 46

Beijing, China
  • Architects: Chaoffice
  • Area Area of this architecture project Area:  156
  • Year Completion year of this architecture project Year:  2020
  • Photographs Photographs:  Zhi Cheng, Yumeng Zhu
  • Manufacturers Brands with products used in this architecture project
    Manufacturers: DONGFANG JINGRAN BUILDING DECORATION, DONGFANGGANG INTERNATIONAL WOOD INDUSTRY CO.Ltd.
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Streetview in village. Image © Yumeng Zhu
Streetview in village. Image © Yumeng Zhu

Text description provided by the architects. The project site is located in a small village within the Taihang Mountains 70 kilometers from Beijing. The village is spread from the bottom of a valley to the slopes, and the yard located nearly at the highest point. According to local folklore, a castle once stood above the village, built during the Yuan Dynasty. This is how the village’s name, meaning “under fortress” came to be,and as you look back you find yourself gazing upon beautiful Da’an Mountain and the Zhaitang Valley. Both of which have been left unchanged for millions of years.

Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng
Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng
Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng
Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng

The building would not to be an invention. In essence, the existing scale, shape, and color together make the building merge in with the background. At the same time, it acquires its own identity from small details of alienations. Although no physical evidence of the legendary castle can now be seen, we can still experience and imagine what the Mongolian solders would have experienced when occupying the site, their perspective still intact.

Steps and platforms in yards. Image © Yumeng Zhu
Steps and platforms in yards. Image © Yumeng Zhu

The yard perspective from west to east. Image © Yumeng Zhu
The yard perspective from west to east. Image © Yumeng Zhu
The C room on top of the yard. Image © Yumeng Zhu
The C room on top of the yard. Image © Yumeng Zhu

This experience becomes the starting point of our narrative. First of all, the distinction between indoor and outdoor, as well as the differences between rooms was all ignored. The entire site transformed into a grand platform; an open, shared space. The hutong lies on the north side, with an open view to the south.

steps and platforms both inside and outside Perspective from main livingroom. Image © Zhi Cheng
steps and platforms both inside and outside Perspective from main livingroom. Image © Zhi Cheng
Perspective section
Perspective section
Inside and outside of small sitting room. Image © Yumeng Zhu
Inside and outside of small sitting room. Image © Yumeng Zhu

Parts of the platform rise up and parts drop down according to the variety of heights belonging to the neighbor southward, and this created a sort of “platform upon platform”. As there are views on each corner of the site, the mountains themselves became a part of the building.

Kitchen countertop link to outside platform. Image © Yumeng Zhu
Kitchen countertop link to outside platform. Image © Yumeng Zhu

The entire space exists between unchanged ceiling and uneven ground. Variety in scale and shape help create distinct spaces, each providing its own feeling. platforms can be linked together using steps. Larger steps, between 400mm and 800mm, transform into a “table” or “chair”. When one walks through or sits inside, it would not feel dissimilar to nesting in a cave within the mountains. Contrasting this with the expansive views the site provides, the concept of “here and there, two mountains” appears.

The entrance hall. Image © Yumeng Zhu
The entrance hall. Image © Yumeng Zhu

In continuing the landscape, we tried to weaken the idea of “wall” as a boundary separating different rooms. In actuality the shear wall combined with added storage space together form a very thick volume, standing between different spaces.

Loft bedroom. Image © Zhi Cheng
Loft bedroom. Image © Zhi Cheng

Simultaneously, due to local customs, windows open on the north wall are not allowed, so we made the top of the wall bend inward, creating a gap between the wall and eaves, following the roof line. This window faces the hutong rather than the neighbors house and wind could then blow through the space, the bending wall helping to create a small environment underneath.

Windows in the loft bedroom. Image © Zhi Cheng
Windows in the loft bedroom. Image © Zhi Cheng
Streetview in village. Image © Yumeng Zhu
Streetview in village. Image © Yumeng Zhu

As people sit inside facing the magnificent views, they can feel a sense of shelter, and at night, the light from within makes the gloomy hutong brighter.

Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng
Streetview in village. Image © Zhi Cheng

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About this office
Cite: "House of Steps / Chaoffice" 06 Jul 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/942996/house-of-steps-chaoffice> ISSN 0719-8884
Sitting room. Image © Zhi Cheng

台上之家 / 察社办公室

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