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Courtyard by the West Sea

Updated: 2021-03-24 19:03

1 Basic Information

Location: West Sea, Beijing
Date: The year of 2013
Clicent: Private
Program: Tea House, Dinner, Party, Office, Conference,Living and Entertainment
Area: 800m2
Design Team: META-Project
Lighting Consultant: Han Xiaowei
Photographer: Chen Su

2 Background

Today, the narrow alleyway connecting small courtyard residences, or Hutong, has proved to be more resilient and complex than ever. They are here to stay: they not only provide a glimpse into Beijing's long history, but they are also a cultural and physical reality providing a key to a prosperous urban life in the future.

3 Design
From Hutong to [META:HUTONGS]
Located in the middle of the old city of Beijing, META-Project has been interested in the regeneration and evolution of the Hutongs.

Since 2012, the founder of META-Project, Wang Shuo and Architect Andrew Bryant had initiated and organized [META:HUTONGS] , an award winning, internationally-recognized research collaborative. It is sponsored by the Graham Foundation, as well as Mckinsey Urban China Initiative (UCI), to carry through 4 years and has exhibited at Beijing Design Week, Design Shanghai, and Venice Biennale. Set out from the reflection of [META:HUTONGS], "Courtyard by the west sea" is an attempt for what can be done between preservation and demolition.

Courtyard by the West Sea

The project is located in a narrow base between Xihai(the West Sea) east bank and Deshengmen Inner Avenue, less than four hundred meters to the south of Deshengmen tower. Facing two rows of brick-hybrid structure plant construction on the side of the west sea, the predecessor of the site was the prestigious Blue Lotus Bar, on the eastern side were a few little shabby temporary housing built in the seventies and eighties, which had no conservation value. The owner hoped to renovate this land which goes through from the West Sea and Deshengmen Inner Avenue into a space with a kind of Beijing Hutong cultural characteristics, while meeting a series of very contemporary mixed-use features – including the tea house, dinner, party, office, conference, as well as living and entertainment.


META-Project combed through existing structures before conducting a detailed renovation and intervention and transformed the courtyard into a "three-step-courtyard" form, And here the proposed "three-step-courtyard" is not an imitation of traditional courtyard's axial symmetry pattern, but a contemporary reinterpretation of multi-layer courtyard and its possibility in depth by means of well-proportioned patchwork, movement of steps and shift of scenes, meanwhile satisfying owner's wish to build a cultural life in this hutong, Three-step-courtyard is full of trees and vegetation and is in a clear division of various functions required by the owner, making daily walk a spatial experience with continuity and full of rhythm.

Material tectonic experiment

Inner facade and west façade have used polished volcanic rock with five degrees of depth of palette, similar with the periphery walls of the mansions nearby hidden in the hutongs both in scale and in color, while in texture reflecting a more accurate and detailed change. Different-sized and-proportioned catalpa wood outdoor windows created through a complex construction are observed within the various viewpoints bringing changes in the facade expressions, while maximizing the possible viewing from the inside outward.

The fencing walls of the more open backyard have evolved into an experiment for material overlapping, after trying several different materials, we determined to use the "tube tile" as the main material for the walls of the back yard – thus the commonly roofing-used tube tiles for draining now layered vertically inside the old wall serving as a veil of fence, with carefully manipulated subtle twist, giving the original grey material a rich taste of light and shadow interaction under different lights and angles.

By carefully constructed volcanic rock, catalpa wood and tube tile, it has introduced into the courtyard a feel as if walking in the alley with rich material experiences.

Interior experience creation

In order to continue the daily hutong courtyard experience into the interior space, we introduce "golden brick" flooring and grey brick walling, together with dark-colored wood grid screen and built-in furniture defining a fluidized space. All creations indoors circle around outdoor nature (the West Sea and courtyard). Different "windows" have become the "transformer" linking and mutually penetrating inside and the external environment.

Courtyard by the West Sea, an ongoing dialogue between the exterior city and the interior intends to find and elaborate a Beijing hutong life in contemporary qualities.





Before restoration




Space analysis






West elevation








Facade details




Tube tile


Tube tile construction

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