Hutong: The Latest Architecture and News
Throughout the work of Beijing-based practice ARCHSTUDIO, there is a constant feeling of sensitivity to culture and history. That is not to say that the firm’s designs are not modern—far from it in fact—but that the work of founder Han Wenqiang infuses modern materials and forms with a distinctly Chinese sensibility, that is just as apparent in his designs for a food packaging facility as it is in a Buddhist shrine (incidentally, both designs which won ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards, in 2017 and 2018 respectively). In the latest interview from his “City of Ideas” series, Vladimir Belogolovsky speaks to Han about whether architecture is an art form and what it means to create “Chinese” architecture in the 21st century.
Chinese courtyard houses are one of the most common housing typologies spanning all the way from the northern capital of Beijing to the poetic southern cities Hangzhou and back to the picturesque regions of Yunnan. Typically referred as heyuan, these courtyards homes are simply a “yard enclosed on four sides."
Traditionally, heyuans were large single-family homes, built to house multiple generations of descendants, thus the essential gathering place for micro-communities. Today, however, many heyuans in China are faced with the challenges of encroaching urban development. The national reforms of the 1950’s divided up many existing courtyards to be occupied by multiple families and groups, exhausting ancient sanitation systems nationwide. These practical circumstances together with market-driven conditions have sparked a renewed interest among architects, to upgrade the conditions of these ancient courtyards and explore the spatial and conceptual possibilities of the typology within their fast-changing urban fabric. Scroll down for a selection of projects that will refresh your understanding of Chinese courtyards.
The Guardian's Oliver Wainwright documents the current trend of micro-scale installations spurring new life into the historic hutongs of Beijing and gaining support from the local communities, eager to reject the economic pressures of destroying/rebuilding. The local government’s endorsement, however, comes as a surprise - especially considering its fervent impetus to raze these areas just a few years ago. Read the full article here: Designers Use 'Urban Acupuncture' to Revive Beijing's Historic Hutongs.