“It is the expression of that social concern for thousands of separate communities within the whole Ummah which is so uniquely a central part of the Muslim message. We have recognised an architecture for men, women, and children, not yet an architecture for history books and tourists. Through architecture we are recognising the quality of life within the Muslim world today. And, by recognising a housing project developed by a whole community or a medical centre, we are preserving for all times the memory of this quality of life…
Shortlisted Project – 2014-2016 Award Cycle: Micro Yuan’er – Hutong/courtyard Renovation, Beijing, China
Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, most prominently Beijing.
In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another.
Micro Yuan’er is a project by zhang ke’s Beijing-based standardarchitecture, which revitalizes a historic hutong courtyard.
The inserted structure, which contains a miniature art space and library, is part of the organic re-development taking place around the southwest of the city’s Tienanmen square.
The #8 Cha’er Hutong courtyard is a typical messy courtyard once occupied by over a dozen families. Over the past fifty years, each family built a small add-on kitchen in the courtyard. These add-on structures are usually considered as urban scrap and all of them have been wiped out with the renovation practices during the past years.
Different from the conventional redevelopment strategies, by redesigning, renovating and reusing the add-on structures in the hutong courtyards, the project allows Beijing citizens and the government to see new and sustainable possibilities for how to put our messy additions to good use.
In concert with the families, a nine-metre-square children’s library built of plywood was inserted underneath the pitched roof of an existing building.
Under a big Chinese scholar tree, one of the former kitchens was redesigned into a six-metre-square miniature art space made from traditional bluish-grey brick.
Through this small-scale intervention in the courtyard, bonds between communities have been strengthened and the Hutong life of local residents enriched.
A small-scale project that enriches bonds amongst communities and revives Hutong life.
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Researched & Compiled by Arif Ali