ZAO/Standardarchitecture : Micro Hutong

What better playground for an organizer than the famous hutongs of Beijing (China), these traditional narrow and labyrinthine lanes that teem with activities? Zhang Ke, from the ZAO / Standardarchitecture group, is experimenting in one of these special neighborhoods, the paradoxical notions of intimacy and sharing, in a strange construction with salient volumes.

The hutongs, the lanes that make up downtown Beijing, are increasingly deserted by their inhabitants who prefer the outskirts of the megalopolis, with larger homes and wider outdoor spaces. Based on a critical analysis of this exodus and on the occasion of 2013's Beijing Design Week, Zhang Ke installs a microarchitecture in the trough of a L-shaped street in order to attract the curious and gather the inhabitants of the Dashilar district.


Along two concrete houses, the visitor enters through a metal entrance in what appears to be a decaying hovel, sporting a corrugated iron facade and wooden plank of salvage, typical of Pekingese alleys. After having spent a room of 30 square meters, without partition neither window nor door, where only a sofa and some cousins ​​seem to imply the function of living room, the walker discovers a paved atrium of 10 square meters, whose materials - glass and cement - and the contemporary lines contrast with the neighboring gables made of odds and ends.

Around this patio, five impressive irregular glass volumes arranged on two levels, seem to compete for the limited space available. The kitchen and toilets are literally exposed in the two blocks of the ground floor, while the three sleeping units are perched higher in three cubes accessible by ladders and narrow passages.
These plywood modules coated with anthracite cement, ranging from two to three square meters, are introduced into a metal structure adaptable to all configurations, offering a multitude of mounting and dismounting possibilities in other locations.

The vis-à-vis between units then create a game between inside and outside, and between the occupants of boxes that are free to see and to be seen. Here the notion of intimacy is erased. Sanitary have been placed outside, on the other side of the building, out of sight this time; giving the neighbors a brand new corner.

A curious UFO, located between artistic and architectural staging, to be exhibited at the 2017-2018 Chicago Architecture Biennial, to demonstrate the role of the master builders in the revitalization of neglected old centers.

To learn more, visit the website of Standardachitecture
Photographs: © ZAO / Standardarchitecture

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