Courtyard House Redevelopment Project, China by Jí Architect

Find the optimal solution by using the limits

Project Specs


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Appreciation towards Jí architect (contact: for providing the following description:

亼建筑(Jí Architect)( 在甲方的委托下重建北京胡同里一个占地约90平米的非典型院落,重建后功能不确定,且须保证重建后的建筑轮廓与外形与原始建筑完全一致。

Jí Architect (, entrusted by client, redeveloped an approx. 90-square meter atypical courtyard house in a Beijing hutong. Functions of the redeveloped courtyard house were yet to be decided. The outline and the shape of the new building shall remain consistent with the original.

overall view of the courtyard ©亼建筑


The original building constructed in the 1980s was a dilapidated hutong house with flat roof. The ground level of the courtyard in-betweenwas lower than the repaired alleyways outside the yard. The clear ceiling height of the both two floors in the northern part building was less than two meters. Peoples had to lower their heads to avoid bumping the wooden beams when walking through the room. Due to the variety of requirements and limitations of the redevelopment and construction in hutong area, the design becomes a process of .

▼改造过程,renovation process ©亼建筑


Limitations on the height


To create enough ceiling height , the ground of the site was further lowered down. The height difference was used to construct several platforms of various heights. The deep and narrow area between the enclosure and the building was designed as blurred transitional space where scattered steps were set to make less contrast between outside and interior heights. Steps and platforms played different roles at corresponding interfaces.

▼改造前后流线变化,circulation before and after renovation ©亼建筑

▼降低基地高度后的庭院,courtyard with lowered ground level ©亼建筑

steps blurring the height differences between the inside and outside spaces ©亼建筑

details of the wall ©亼建筑


Limitations caused by adjacent structures


Considering the limitation and construction conditions in hutong area, the redevelopment adopted the steel structure for fast, convenient construction. The newly-set foundation of steel columns must avoid the neighbouring old brick base right next to them since the walls were impossible to move. So we place some columns one meter away from the wall adjacent to the neighbor, this caused a part overhang of the floor. The entire layout of the room was also re-divided by the column inside.

▼剖面图,部分墙柱分离,section, some columns are separated from the walls ©亼建筑


Limitations on the space area


The original space was divided into three independent and scatted small rooms due to the in-between courtyard and storey height. Since the functions of the redeveloped building were undefined, the space should be kept intact, and be maximized to provide more possibilities. We also opened up the interfaces of two rooms facing to the courtyard, and by switching open the folding door, the two rooms in the northern and southern parts can be integrated by the courtyard as a whole.

the room and the courtyard are connected into one entity after opening the folding door ©亼建筑

▼下沉的室内空间与庭院,sunken interior space and courtyard ©亼建筑


To make the best use of the natural sight and wonderful view over the hutong on the second floor, a bridge with steps was built, fitted in the courtyard scenery and connecting the northern room and the roof terrace of the southern part. The bridge, the terrace,the passages, and interior stairway were combined to create a new spacial circulation, enriching the spacial experience in this courtyard house.

▼屋顶连桥,可以欣赏胡同景观,bridge on the roof with views to the Hutong area ©亼建筑

▼二层观景窗,picture window on the second floor ©亼建筑


We intended to create rich experiences in this small and confined space ,by playing with the height differences, the organization of the space, and the interfaces treatment. The redevelopment project has demonstrated one of Jí Architect’s innovative solutions under various limitations to the new planning of a hutong.

▼纯粹的室内空间,interior space in pure white color ©亼建筑

staircase and details ©亼建筑

▼平面图,plans ©亼建筑


Project Name: Courtyard House Redevelopment
Project Type: Redevelopment
Project Area: 88.20㎡
Completion Year: 2019.11
Designer: Li Jieran, Lu Wenhui
Photography: Jí Architect

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