The project site is located within the Taihang Mountains 70 kilometers from Beijing. The clients, a young couple, are native to the mountains and the yard formerly served as home to their parents. Years past, and the family moved to the city, the yard left abandoned, broken and derelict. Clients wish to renovate the yard into a comfortable place. Our clients wish to renovate the yard into a place which could be comfortable again.
▼项目概览，project preview ©成直
The village is spread from the bottom of a valley to the slopes, and the yard located nearly at the highest point. According to local folklore, a castle once stood above the village, built during the Yuan Dynasty. This is how the village’s name, meaning “under fortress” came to be, and as you look back you find yourself gazing upon beautiful Da’an Mountain and the Zhaitang Valley. Both of which have been left unchanged for millions of years.
▼场地原貌，the existing site photo ©察社办公室
▼乡村街道视角，Streetview in village ©成直
▼幽深胡同，the deep alley ©成直
The main road through the village follows a large slope, the small hutongs dotting its route dark and narrow; single story houses appear low, covered by grey rock and cement. These elements coalesce to form the image of the village, which we do not want to challenge. The building would not to be an invention. In essence, the existing scale, shape, and color together make the building merge in with the background. At the same time, it acquires its own identity from small details of alienations. All unusual elements belonging to one narrative, and act as a representation of the behavior of people who occupy the building inside.
▼从胡同望向入口，view to the entrance from the alley ©成直
▼设计示意图，diagram gif. ©察社办公室
Although no physical evidence of the legendary castle can now be seen, we can still experience and imagine what the Mongolian solders would have experienced when occupying the site, their perspective still intact.
This experience becomes the starting point of our narrative. First of all, the distinction between indoor and outdoor, as well as the differences between rooms was all ignored. The entire site transformed into a grand platform; an open, shared space. The hutong lies on the north side, with an open view to the south. Parts of the platform rise up and parts drop down according to the variety of heights belonging to the neighbor southward, and this created a sort of “platform upon platform”. As there are views on each corner of the site, the mountains themselves became a part of the building.
▼院落中的地台，Steps and platforms in yards ©朱雨蒙
▼公共和私密空间，public & private ©察社办公室
▼平面透视图，perspective plan ©察社办公室
The entire space exists between unchanged ceiling and uneven ground. Variety in scale and shape help create distinct spaces, each providing its own feeling. Some parts floor rising so high and there would be rooms even underneath. Some parts drop down low, so as to create a loft space on top. All of these additional spaces are meant for private use as bedrooms or bathrooms. There are also many more subtle height differences, so platforms can be linked together using steps. Larger steps, between 400mm and 800mm, transform into a “table” or “chair”. When one walks through or sits inside, it would not feel dissimilar to nesting in a cave within the mountains. Contrasting this with the expansive views the site provides, the concept of “two mountains as counterparts” appears.
▼夏天的院子，the yard in summer ©成直
▼从主起居室望向平台，The main living room and view outside window ©成直
▼从主起居室望向室内外起伏的地台，steps and platforms both inside and outside perspective from main living room ©成直
▼剖面透视图，perspective sections ©察社办公室
In continuing the landscape, we tried to weaken the idea of “wall” as a boundary separating different rooms. In actuality the shear wall combined with added storage space together form a very thick volume, standing between different spaces. Simultaneously, due to local customs, windows open on the north wall are not allowed, so we made the top of the wall bend inward, creating a gap between the wall and eaves, following the roof line. This window faces the hutong rather than the neighbors house and wind could then blow through the space, the bending wall helping to create a small environment underneath. As people sit inside facing the magnificent views, they can feel a sense of shelter, and at night, the light from within makes the gloomy hutong brighter.
▼向下弯折的墙体为沙发区域带来了庇护感， the bending wall helps to create a small environment underneath ©成直
▼门厅区域，the entrance hall ©朱雨蒙
▼剪力墙与储物空间相结合，the shear wall is combined with added storage space ©朱雨蒙
▼东侧走廊，the corridor at east end of the builiding ©成直
If only talking about the main platform, we can define 4 rough sections, from lowest to highest. The east end of the building contains a small sitting room under a loft bedroom. Visitors can sit around two 300mm deep hollows both in and outside, to enjoy a relaxing moment with company.
▼小客厅座位空间，Sitting room ©成直
▼从小客厅望向院子，The east end of the yard perspective from small sitting room ©成直
▼小客厅内外，inside and outside of small sitting room ©朱雨蒙
The next section is a higher area that is large in scale and bright inside. The kitchen and dining room are both located here, as well as the main living room. The outer area is also a large space, and the landscape defining this section provides kitchen cupboards, tables, and sofas.
▼主厅，the main living room ©朱雨蒙
▼厨房台面与室外平台相连，kitchen countertop link to outside platform ©朱雨蒙
▼主厅望向平台的视野，the yard outside the main living room ©朱雨蒙
▼和地台结合的混凝土桌子，the concrete table in the yard ©朱雨蒙
The third section is the entrance area. As people enter the building, they have three separate routes to choose from; leading to either the lower bedrooms, outside to the garden, or to the main living space.
▼入口区域，The antrance and the signbox ©成直
▼通向卧室的台阶，steps lead to bedroom ©成直
The fourth section is not actually within the house itself, but sits on top of the lower bedrooms. The height under the ceiling is quite low and is not suitable to function as an indoor space, so it instead becomes a special outdoor space under the eave. People can sit here as they watch the mountain, drinking tea and playing games together. It could very well be the most interesting space on the site.
▼C字形屋顶，the C room on top of the yard ©朱雨蒙
Visitors can arrive at their bedrooms via steps going both upwards and downwards from the public platform. Watching the mountains from the loft bedroom window feels like looking through a pair of binoculars.
▼通向阁楼卧室的台阶，steps lead to loft bedroom ©成直
▼阁楼卧室，loft bedroom ©成直
In the mountains north west of Beijing there is an ever growing awareness among people towards the value of nature, or vistas, or clean air, water and food, and even the different feelings provided as one season changes to the next. These aspects together have become the collective dream of those living in the city, and when they come from the city, they wish to find a place far away from our omnipresent modern consumerist society or the strange desires of designers.
▼院子东向视角，the yard perspective from west to east ©朱雨蒙
As with our other projects, in “house of steps” we still search for what can be brought forth from the idea of continuity. If we ignore the traditional definitions applied to “floors”, “rooms”, or “furniture”, can we perceive a building as a landscape? The idea of “here and there two mountains”—this human behavior taking place on the landscape—copies the form of this large area, and can also provide a hint, a special kind of experience unique to this land and which can be traced back long before our time.
▼院子西向视角，The yard perspective from east to west ©朱雨蒙
▼从街道望向建筑，street view in village ©朱雨蒙
▼场地平面图，site plan ©察社办公室
▼平面图，floor plan ©察社办公室
项目名称：台上之家 – 大有101
项目设计 & 完成年份：2019 – 2020
合作方：结构顾问：高雪梅 / 灯光顾问：闵月波
客户：大有 101 – 李萌
北京光森林照明科技有限公司 – 文高照明灯具