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Located in an art community in Shunyi District of Beijing, the House of Walls is designed for an artist couple as their studio and home. The process of site selection, design and construction took four years. The couple requested that the new building should fit their different needs in art creation and daily life while at the same time functions as a private art museum that regularly opens.
▼项目鸟瞰，aerial view of the project ©孙海霆
The House of Walls is not a regular house. She needs to encompass the trivial mundane life as well as transcends beyond the daily routine. The task that the architect facing here is not the duality between the two artists, but a three dimensional relationship: as a family, they are a couple and peers; as individuals, they face their own works as well as the other selves. The building is designed within the private domain but with characteristics of publicity and sociality at certain moment.
▼北立面，north elevation ©孙海霆
The conflicts triggered by the ambiguous, contradictory and complex relationships, as well as the simultaneous play of different life scenes urgently need the containment of an orderly space framework. A series of walls with different heights and thicknesses stand on a long strip of land. On the facade, “the walls” are either defining a large volume, squeezing a narrow space, or holding nothing but emptiness. The walls are the basic elements of physical objects and also the experimental materials of architectural thoughts. “The walls” build up a clear logic, and mark the boundaries awaiting to be broken through. The coordinate grid that the walls established enables the infinite possibilities of life and creation.
▼西立面，west elevation ©孙海霆
The U-shaped walls wrap around the space-room in various sizes from the north and extend to the south. Each set of walls are separated by an 800mm-gap filled with tall stripe of glass curtain wall in order to bring the scale down. The north façade is implicit and solemn, presenting as rhythmed massing blocks with only limited openings. The south façade is more private, intending to exhibit freedom and openness between the walls. The walls framing different programs and lighting condition give a metabolic south facade expression.
▼剖面图，中庭是建筑的核心，section, atrium is the core of the entire building
At the entrance, the wall sequence turns a small angle, with the neighboring walls framing a special interstitial space, extending from the entrance to the double-height atrium, the tearoom and the bamboo groove. The atrium is the core of the entire building, acting as the transition between the studio and living quarter. The subtle shift of angle allows ideal orientation and view for the living quarter, and at the same time marks a transitional moment along the interior walking path, indicating a switch of personal state between work and life. The atrium is vaguely separated by two rotating screen walls from the entrance and the tearoom, allowing different usage of the atrium from winter garden to dinner party. The light, materiality and atmosphere of the atrium is intentionally designed as that of an exterior patio, with the sunken terrazzo floor, recycled wood shelves, a metal water sink and a wall built with prefabricated concrete planters in it. The vegetation and the art artefacts, the wood and the concrete are aging as a union, celebrating a contrast between the hard and the soft, the still and the mobile, continuously tuning the micro-environment of the atrium.
▼入口中庭，atrium at the entrance ©孙海霆
▼预制混凝土花盆砖，precast concrete brick ©孙海霆
▼通向地下展厅的坡道，ramp to the underground exhibition room ©孙海霆
▼地下展厅，underground exhibition space ©孙海霆
▼展厅西侧天窗，skylight on the west side of the exhibition space ©孙海霆
A visit usually starts from the west side of the atrium. The exhibition space is located on the underground floor, reached by a ramp from the double height space. The change of floor level is less perceivable. In order to maximize the independent status of the two art studios, they are located on two farthest points on the circulation though the direct distance is quite close. The passages, ramps and corridors elongate the distance and time of visiting. The ground floor Chinese Painting art studio is composed of two identifiable spaces wrapped around by two U-shape walls. The space on the west is the main working studio, while the other is the long narrow space separated by the sliding walls. It contains all the service space, including a small painting room, storage and restroom on the ground floor, and study room together with a private terrace on the mezzanine floor. The oil painting studio is located above the exhibition space. The couple could visit each other only by walking through the living quarter.
▼国画室和二层书房，studio for Chinese painting with a study room on the second floor ©孙海霆
On the east of the atrium, the scale goes to domestic life. Starting from the low wall on the east, three sets of U-shape walls define a series of transition between interior and exterior: from the east terrace, the east interior gallery, the private inner courtyard, to the semi-exterior covered platform and the exteriorized atrium. The dark and the light alternates. Several sets of symmetrical language, including the visual pair of the dining room and the living room, the water sink skylight, the vertical elevator box and the double-height bay window, all indicate the status of the east gate as the ceremonial entrance of the house.
▼内庭院，inner courtyard ©孙海霆
▼客厅，living room ©孙海霆
The walls also sculpt and define the rooftop space, which “breaks” the walls together with the underground exhibition space. The rooms isolated by the walls could be easily visited by the roof terrace. The entrance to the roof terrace locates on top of the atrium, squeezed by the blocks of oil painting studio and living quarter. The stepped roof terraces lead up and down, creating the sculptural form and the continuous promenade experience, breaking the boundary of the walls. The roof becomes the public space within the family.
▼夜景，night view ©孙海霆
▼一层平面图，first floor plan
▼（左）二层平面图，(left) second floor plan
（右）三层平面图，(right) third floor plan
项目设计&完成年份：2014 – 2018
Project Name:A House of Walls
Design: DustART Office
Design & Completion Year:2014 – 2018
Designer: Liu Yanchen
Address: Liqiao County, Shunyi District, Beijing
Area: 2100 m²
Photographer: Sun Haiting, Liu Yanchen
Client: Private Clients
Brand/Material: Lan Bao Architectural Concrete
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