“San Sa”, formerly named as “The Third Hometown”, refers to a social space created for an introspective group of people who seek a space away from everyday life to recharge the mind, body, and spirit. The project is situated on a 2,000-square-meter unused plot of land, which was originally occupied by a gas station and about forty minutes’ walk from the Mutianyu Great Wall.
▼民宿南侧鸟瞰夜景，south aerial view of the guest house at night ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
The original idea of the project was to build an inclusive rural oasis in a place that has been selected as one of China’s top ten most beautiful villages by a number of internationally renowned media. The aim is to provide visitors with a spatial and sensory experience that evokes personal renewal, inpart by reflecting on the imagined memory of lives past. To embed within the design an appreciation for the site’s heritage, we extended the existing spatial arrangement of the village, scattering the architectural blocks in-line with the typical village plan, while combining those blocks into an integrated whole. This approach enabled us to create a spatial pattern and order that blends rather seamlessly into the local built environment. By subverting the stereotypical concept of rural tourism resorts, we hope to create a kind of “village within a village” and to give this piece of land the vitality it deserves. The visions happened to coincide; the concept of “village within village” began to develop, growing throughout the design and construction process of more than four years.
▼民宿南侧鸟瞰远景，延续了村庄现有的空间排列肌理，distant south aerial view of the guest house, extending the existing spatial arrangement of the village ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼民宿南侧鸟瞰近景，将屋顶按村落格局打碎，创造了更融入的空间规律与秩序，close south aerial view of the guest house, scattering the architectural blocks in-line with the typical village plan, while combining those blocks into an integrated whole ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
设计 | Design
This project complies with the basic elements and volume division of the original village, and aims to simplify architectural details in order to facilitate the use of local resources. The design emerges through this process, informed in part, by the overall rhythm and pace of real life, and through a lived experience of the building site.
▼民宿俯视图，top view of the guest house ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼屋线的舞蹈，dance of the roof ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼屋檐与长城远景的呼应，roofs dancing with the Great Wall ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
生态 | Ecology
▼中心庭院鸟瞰，aerial view of the main courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼走出大堂进入主院，from the lobby to the main courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼从中心庭院走向客房，walking to the guest rooms from the central courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
The layout of the design aims to make the ecology of buildings and courtyards different from other typical buildings in North China. By responding to issues of human-scale and social interface in place-making, the project seeks to break the conventional ‘mode of thought’ for the Visitor. The continuation of culture and lifestyle is certainly necessary, but it is meaningless to conservatively follow the rules and blindly carry it forward. We hope to use this method, which seems to challenge the typical comfort zone for people living in the North to interact with space, and to bring the visitors another way of contemplating life. You can feel that the courtyards are similar to those in South China, or feel that they are a mixture of north and south buildings. You may feel that there is not enough privacy, but more likely, you may come to feel that the space offers some enticing exotic elements. In any case, this kind of thinking has already brought forward the vitality of self-reflection and a conscious engagement with the environment.
▼主庭院夜景，从主庭院南侧看向大堂，night view from the main courtyard to the lobby ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼主院水景东侧的大堂餐厅夜景， night view of the lobby cafe next to the water feature ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼夜景，从中心庭院沿着自西向东的蜿蜒小巷走，night view of the curvy brick lane to the east lane ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼东院交叉口夜景，night view of the intersection at the east terrace ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼东侧露台向南侧夜景，night view of the east terrace to the south ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼东侧露台向西夜景，night view of the east terrace to the west ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼夜景，东院的私密露台，night view of the rooftop terrace in the east ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼东院二楼露台鸟瞰，aerial view of the east terrace ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
This kind of “courtyard neighborhood” ecology may be the best way for “San Sa” to help people who visit to re-examine their lives and to gain an appreciation for the original intention and method of rural construction.
▼走入南院的景色，view in the lane to the south ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼南侧的茶室露台，terrace on the tea house ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼南侧花园俯视图，top view of the south courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼南侧院落的交错，merging of the courtyards in the south ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼屋檐间的场景，scene between the roofs ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼院落私角，private corners from houses ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼中心户型主院向东景色，to the east from the central courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼南院西边的客房，night view of the guest rooms to the west from the south courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
材料 | Materials
Within the particular environment of Beijing, the selection, production and transportation of building materials posed many challenges throughout construction. Therefore, we tried our best to use local materials that were authentic and readily available, without introducing ornamental or decorative elements. Observing the natural phenomenon of the wind and the sun helped to reveal the hidden wisdom and beauty of the materials. The old slate as the landscape pavement, the porous red brick in the private courtyard, the stone brick joints at the building wall base, and the collocation of red brick and blue brick used for building walls, all together made the relatively impressive material characteristics and the dignity of the architectural geometry present a feeling of leisure and quietness.
▼红砖与青砖的呼应，red brick wall and the grey ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼三卅东侧的小巷，采用石板的景观地面铺装和渗水红砖，east lane on the east of San Sa Village with the old slate as the landscape pavement and the porous red brick in the private courtyard ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼砖墙小巷，建筑墙根采用石砖连接，the brick lane with the stone brick joints at the building wall base ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼半透砖墙私景，private scene behind the brick wall ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
实现 | Realization
The whole process of building became a growing process of constant trial, self-pursuit and self-subversion. Only with the participation of local villagers can village houses find their real roots and become truly integrated into the village life. The construction team was fully integrated with modern management and local villagers’ practices. From architectural design, drawings and communication, to production samples, on-site testing, error correction, re-understanding, re-production, and repetitive attempts, the entire team came to form common values. The entire team’s commitment to these idealistic values may be the most fundamental to the realization of San Sa.
细节 | Details
The details of this project, in our view, certainly cannot be as good as the ideals rendered by the pen on the paper. However, the coordination and compromise in the details are produced by the process of integrating the intention of rational design with the subjectivity of in-situ thinking. Indeed, the most attractive details of San Sa are derived through the communication, contradictions, conflicts, and lessons that arise on site, and especially through subsequent experimental attempts in the case of unknown results. Architects with different cultural backgrounds used their experience and vision to precisely plan the details. The attitude of the construction team changed from “typically we don’t do this, typically we do this,” to a new understanding of joints and connections through hand drawing and through the meticulous realization of the final production. From learning the proper alignment of materials to understanding randomized patterning, until by the end, feeling it was not perfect enough and spontaneously hoping to continue improving; this transformation was the most gratifying part for us among all the architectural details.
远景。院景，也是远景 | Vision. The courtyard scene is also a vision
When you see a beautiful building standing in the beautiful countryside, please do not be too hasty to mention what has been given up for the Zen, which has become a cliché, or recklessly defined as merely an architectural style. Zen is not a superficial word, but requires more serious understanding and criticism, so as to give these lives more deserved respect. Sitting in the yard, this is the most beautiful moment of “San Sa” when you no longer feel disturbed by close neighbors, when you can enjoy the stars again, when you are able to sit still in one place but forget about the time.
▼屋檐下的走道夜景，night view of the corridor under the roof ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼深色调长城景客房，dark tone Great Wall view guest room ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼深色调大客房，the dark tone large guest room ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
▼浅色调客房，light tone guest room ©Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
“San Sa” is a kind of joy to art, an embrace to the five senses, and a respect to regional culture.
▼首层平面图，ground floor plan ©llLab
▼各院落首层平面图，ground floor plans of the individual courtyard ©llLab
项目建筑设计团队：llLab. | 叙向建筑设计
项目家具顾问团队：cdc | brandcreation，奥地利
摄影：Fernando Guerra I FG+SG
Project name: San Sa Village
Project location: Beigou Village, Huairou District, Beijing
Site area: around 2,300 sqm
Building area: about 1,600 sqm
Project schedule: 2015 –July 2019
Project investor: 2049 Group
Architectural design: llLab. (https://www.lllab.net/)
Construction team: San She Inn (Beijing) Cultural Management Co., Ltd.
Construction drawings: China Electric Design & Research Co., Ltd.
Civil engineering construction team: Yi Wang and his friends
Interior construction team: Guobing Zhou and his friends
Deepened landscape design: Shanghai Di Cui Landscaping Co., Ltd.
Landscape construction team: Mr. Cai and his friends
Furniture consultation: cdc | brandcreation (Austria)
Uniform design / production: carpostudio (Portugal)
Photo by Fernando Guerra I FG+SG