- Award : Elite Habitat Award Excellence
- Client : Government of Puyang, Dujiangyan
- City : Chengdu
- Country : China
Text description provided by the architects. This project is a village activity center located about 5 km north of the ancient irrigation system Dujiangyan in Chengdu. The Chengdu Plain irrigated by Dujiangyan for thousands of years has led to a unique rural cultural landscape, Linpan, in western Sichuan, and Nanxiyao is a typical Yuanba courtyard dwelling in a Linpan settlement. However, with the accelerated urbanization, this old building was gradually abandoned due to its low height, high humidity, and lack of comfort. This design is aiming to preserve the original building site and the typical concave layout of the single-story Yuanba courtyard dwelling, and through renovation and moderate transformation, to recreate an attractive public space and maintain the lifestyle of the indigenous vernacular community.
There is a proverb in Chengdu folklore that goes “There’s no looking better than plain-looking", and the traditional Linpan residential buildings use inexpensive small green tiles, clay bricks, and easily accessible cedarwood, all materials can be recycled and decomposed by nature, and no waste is produced during the whole life cycle. It is the same as the concept of modern passive architecture, which is in line with the objectivity of the natural ecosystem. The "Nanxiyao" renewal project learns from this "light and agile, leisurely and elegant" characteristic in the humanistic aesthetics and material use.
The design provides scientific analysis of environmental data such as thermal environment, sunlight, ventilation, and energy consumption by establishing different digital simulation scenarios of buildings, in order to explore the subtle relationship between the changes of courtyard and changes of building space, between the use of different building materials and the construction of livable space. Based on this analysis, the design of architectural space renovation is carried out, and an innovative approach to the renovation of traditional courtyards is adopted.
The colonnade at the northeast corner of the concave courtyard of Nanxiyao faces the dominant wind direction (north-north-east), and the sloping roof of the raised building to the north forms an east low and west high shape following the wind direction, guiding the natural wind to enter the courtyard through the overhead airy corridor on the roof at the same time, blowing toward the building at south-west, and then after circling back, the air flowing out through the gap of the courtyard facing Nanxiyao. The original low single-story building now has a spreading level and an undulating ridge, echoing the Danfeng Mountain in the distance.
A portion of the space is raised and a new space is created to form a typical concave layout of a Yuanba courtyard and expand the indoor activity space. To break the sense of enclosure, The colonnade set up in part of the courtyard also becomes a semi-indoor space for cooling and relaxing. The whole courtyard is able to obtain fresh air taking away excess humidity and heat without relying on air conditioning equipment, making the users feel comfortable and restful.
The corridors, pavilions added on the gables, and the loggia added on the roof not only create a novel gray space but also increase the heat capacity of the exterior envelope so that the indoor and outdoor spaces have a good buffer in heat exchange. The overhead loggia on the eastern roof is creatively set up to provide a semi-indoor space experience for the people to climb up and look at the mountains and have tea under the eaves, and the airy roof corridor especially relieves the humid and stuffy heat of Sichuan climate.
Nanxi Yao takes a moderate renewal approach to increase adaptability, making full use of scientific environmental analysis and traditional passive energy-saving design strategies to improve occupants' thermal comfort and significantly reduce building energy consumption through low-cost renovation. Nanxiyao is an excellent example of Chengdu Linpan settlement's current major rural construction strategy that focuses on the humanistic design and environmentally sustainable design. Liu Weibing, the lead architect, said, "I want my work to be complex, like a box that can retain time, where people can enter and experience the memory of the past, the vividness of the present, and the possibility of the future."