Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

 

Architecture in China is evolving. As the economy and construction industry boomed in recent years, becoming an Architect became a viable career path for many Chinese born, artistic students – a significant number of which having the opportunity to complete part of their study abroad due to relaxed visa restrictions. These factors have given the career a new lease of life, and a design liberation is growing.

Enter Zhang Ke, the founder of Standardarchitecture which came into fruition in 2001. The practice are an emerging force in the fields of building, landscape and product design, and are increasingly gaining recognition and respect for their work. In China, they symbolise the new way of thinking and are contributing a number of thought provoking and intellectual works to the architectural world.

 

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Micro-Hutong by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Model of Micro-Hutong. Photo by Su Shengliang.

 

As part of the 2013 Beijing Design Week, Zhang and his team developed the Micro-Hutong Experiment in the Dashilan area. The aim was to explore the possibilities of micro scale social housing within the tight confines of the Beijing streets. These residential laneways, or Hutong as they are locally known, are traditionally the home of the lower class with shared facilities and no running water. Most commonly associated with the capital, these communities have become an increasingly popular attraction in more recent times as tourists clamour to see ‘authentic China’. The question raised by the experiment: how can we raise the standard of living for the poorest whilst retaining the historical fabric of the city?

Standardarchitecture’s response was in the form of playfully stacked plywood boxes, with large singular glazing panels to selected faces. The simple, organic structure creates an inward looking environment, completely surrounded by run-down housing – a courtyard within a courtyard in a sense. The building was made to fit the site, with sections being hacked and positioned to mould around the existing fabric, this proving to only add to the raw language of the context. Internally, the rooms intersect and connect with ladders encouraging exploration of the maze like environment, with small glimpses through narrow windows to the outside rooftops.

 

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | YellowtraceMicro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture | YellowtraceMicro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | YellowtraceMicro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Entry to Micro-Hutong. Photo by Su Shengliang.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Su Shengliang | Yellowtrace
Entry to Micro-Hutong. Photo by Su Shengliang.

 

The follow up to this initial prototype is located in Cha’er Hutong, a nearby location to the original, this time seeking to provide valuable shared facilities for the residents. Utilising what seems to have become the project trademark of ply, this more restrained design forms a library, art space and play area arranged around an existing ash tree. The central built element makes use of recycled Beijing grey brick and encourages interaction through play with a stepped facade leading up to the art space roof, a tactile response and recognition of community life. For the library, an approach of infilling the void has been applied with a plywood insert creating a new, yet distinctly separate, interior fit-out.

It has to be said for both interventions that the construction was not highly refined, partly down to the rapid execution (less than two weeks for Cha’er Hutong), and many ways due to the nature of the project. Sometimes, it seems, architecture doesn’t have to be about carefully considered details and the highest quality finish. The altruistic idea itself is the significant aspect in this case, the fact that Standardarchitecture successfully managed to create some pretty cool spaces in the process is a bonus. Long may the movement continue!

 

Related Post: So Hot Right Now // Living Large in Small Spaces.

 

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre. Photo by Chen Su.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture. Photo by Chen Su | Yellowtrace
Study model of the Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre.

Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standard Architecture | Yellowtrace
Section through Micro-Yuan’er by Standardarchietcutre.


[Photography credits as noted.]

 

About The Author

Rachel Maude
Contributor

Rachel is originally from the north of the England where she studied and lived for the majority of her life. After qualifying as an Architect and working in London for a number of years, she made the move to Melbourne in the search of a new adventure. Her work to date has covered a range of sectors and scales, and although a lover of all things design, her passion and expertise lay in smaller scale residential projects and seeing them through to completion. An environmentalist at heart, she has a keen interest in sustainability and minimising mankind's impact on the planet. When not fulfilling her designing duties, if the sun is shining you will find Rachel outdoors - always eager to explore new places by foot or pedal power (whilst also topping up her tan!).

2 Responses

  1. kennethmason1kapm

    The very large glass area could be a heating issue in both winter and summer. Not sure of the cost of glass this large. Love the use of aged brick and more modern plywood. Perhaps a next step could be rounding and softening some of the hard angles and corners. Living space is viewed differently in China than in Europe or the US. Need for higher head space and larger bed areas. Would like to see some venting windows to control breeze througout (sp) the space. While plywood has a good finish, I am surprised more liberty isn’t taken with trying lots of different finishes. Several ‘mock’ brick walls inside would produce a flow with the outside and courtyard. Looks like poured concrete floor. Could use same in kitchen area, sink and countertops. Lets see the bathroom and tub please.

    Reply

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