Beijing Qianmen by Kengo Kuma and Associates

Transform the traditional Chinese courtyard into an elegant and open mixed-use for the city.

Project Specs


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The site is located in a walking distance of 5 minutes from Beijing’s landmarks, close to Tian’anmen Square and Chang’an Avenue. We undertook the renovation of this area called Qianmen East. It used to be a district in which classical Qing/Ming-styled courtyard houses concentrated. However, with the explosive growth of population in big cities, these houses began to be occupied by people who were strangers to each other. As a result, the historical Siheyuan (courtyard houses) became like a slums, and was even called Da-zayuan (messy dwellings). Our aim was to rejuvenate the entire place as an open community, by transforming it to a townscape that contains mixed programs – offices, houses, shops, hotels and restaurants.

▼ 建筑外观,开放的玻璃幕墙与传统建筑结构相结合,external view of the building, combining glass curtain wall with traditional architectural structure ©Beijing Center for the Arts, Maxim HU

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In the wooden structure, each column and beam was carefully dismantled, repaired, and re-assembled by local carpenters. We designed the exterior as a combination of brick wall and glass curtain wall with extruded aluminum screen. Thus, our version of Siheyuan came to open up to the street, bringing in free atmosphere and well-controlled transparency. The parts that consist the aluminum extrusion are in simple 2 types. By assembling them as one might do for jigsaw-puzzle, we formed an organic pattern that respect the design called “Huagechuang” (Chinese lattice pattern, often applied to windows and doors in traditional buildings).

▼ 玻璃幕墙、砖墙和铝制构件结合形成开放而富有动感的立面,并与室内台阶向对应,glass curtain wall, extruded aluminum screen and traditional brick wall create an open and organic facade, corresponding to the stairs inside ©Beijing Center for the Arts, Maxim HU

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▼ 木结构被保留并修复,与铝制构件和玻璃幕墙形成对比,将传统和现代结合在了一起,the wooden structures are restored and contrast with the glass curtain wall and aluminum screen, combining traditional and modern elements together ©Beijing Center for the Arts, Maxim HU

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▼ 铝幕如同传统花格窗,带来独特的视觉体验,the aluminum screen refers to the traditional lattice window, providing a unique visual experience ©Beijing Center for the Arts, Maxim HU

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Gone are the days when Beijing was made of time-honored Hutong and Siheyuan – most of them were replaced with modern high-rise buildings. What we have done in this project is a revival and proposal of new low-rise housings for various programs, which could meet the demand of today’s urban environment. Kengo Kuma & Associates’ Beijing office resides here, too.

▼ 铝幕细部节点,如拼图一般连接在一起,和传统砖墙相呼应,joint detail of the aluminum screen connected like jigsaw-puzzle, being harmonious with the traditional brick wall ©Kengo Kuma and Associates

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Photography by Beijing Center for the Arts, Maxim HU and Kengo Kuma and Associates
English text: Kengo Kuma and Associates
Chinese text: gooood

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