Not far from the forbidding expanse of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and overshadowed by the inexorable advance of skyscrapers is one of the Chinese capital’s last remaining traditional communities, the Cha’er Hutong.
People have lived in the crowded quarters of hutongs with their courtyards and narrow alleys for centuries but now, increasingly, they are being demolished and the residents moved out into tower blocks, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away, to make way for roads and more skyscrapers.
New life has been breathed into this particular courtyard, however. What used to be a patch filled with rubbish is now home to a tiny structure shaded by a Chinese scholar tree and secreted under the roof of an existing building. It is made of reused bricks and plywood, and is used as a library — only 9 square metres — a meeting house and a place for children to enjoy art lessons, read books and lark about.
Architect Zhang Ke of ZAO/standardarchitecture explains that by reusing materials, renovating and redesigning the small space he has been able to resist the threat of the bulldozers to the city’s historic way of life and create a subtle renewal for a community which once numbered more than a dozen families.
The Micro Yuan’er, as it is called, is one of 19 architectural designs which have won $1 million (Dh3.7 million) in the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, announced earlier this month.
More at the source: October 12, 2016, Richard Holledge for GulfNews.com