T Roof: Nan Cafe in Taoyuan village, Qimen, China by Atelier LAI

The system of “support” and “pick”

Project Specs


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Appreciations towards Atelier-lai for providing the following description:


The Opening 


Taoyuan Village, which is in Qimen County, Anhui Province, is a typical an-cient Huizhou village. The project is the only coffee shop in the village, locat-ed in a corner. All three sides of the site are blocked by neighbors, with only one gable facing a more spacious triangular open space.

▼鸟瞰,aerial view ©唐徐国

▼建筑概貌,exterior view ©唐徐国


“T roof ” used to be a folk house, which is close to the main slate road in the village. This time, her new role is a public space for Taoyuan village tourism, and therefore, a village cafe arises at the historic moment.

▼建筑原貌(左)和建筑新貌(右);the existing building (left) and the new cafe (right) ©赵奕龙


The renovation of the old house still maintains the original boundary of the building, the location of the main entrance, the height of the roof and the orientation of rains falling into the floor. In a closed and introverted base, the inward space becomes the core of the design.

▼老屋变身为乡村咖啡馆,an old house has been renovated to a new village cafe


“Meiren Kao”



Meiren Kao is a unique wall system in ancient Huizhou dwellings. It is located at the junction of indoor and outdoor, and is different from ordinary doors and windows, but a place where you can put your body in. Because of the poetic posture, it is called Meiren Kao, which in Chinese depicts the delightful scene of beauties leaning upon the place. In “T roof ”, Meiren Kao is further extended from the wall system to a super-gray space with combinations of eaves, windows, chairs and stools.

▼“美人靠”墙身系统,Meiren Kao wall system ©赵奕龙

▼结合了披檐、支窗、椅凳的超灰空间,a super-gray space with combinations of eaves, windows, chairs and stools ©唐徐国


In Meiren Kao’s space, outward, the eaves are supported by metal inclined columns, which are connected with the metal backrest. Inward, through the way of picking to form a resting space: “support” up the window, “pick” off the stool. Together, it is a complete wall.

▼美人靠向内形成一个栖息身体的空间,a resting space formed inward ©唐徐国


The system of  “support” and “pick”


▼金属斜柱支撑披檐,the eaves are supported by metal inclined columns ©唐徐国

Oblique support is a simple way of transmitting force. In the invisible vertical gravity field, the oblique structure appears free and interesting. In Chinese traditional dwellings, there is a “support and pick window” which is supported by simple oblique brace and opened horizontally. Turn up for “support” and pull knot down for “pick”. Inspired by this ancient and simple way of “pulling” and “pressing”, we explore a type of architecture with oblique support relationship in this project of “T roof ”.

▼外部视角,view from outside ©赵奕龙


“Supporting pillars” and “Picking beams”  


▼剖透视图,sectional perspective ©来建筑

In the traditional Chinese architectural system, beams and columns are the skeleton of the building, and they are important elements that affect the atmosphere and rhythm of the whole space. In the gravity transfer, the beam column uses the inclined “shuttle column” and the oblique “melon seed beam” to complete the support to the double-slope roof; in the proportion relation, the beam column extends to use the “fat beam thin column” of the ancient Huizhou folk house. Among them, two “shuttle columns” rise from the first floor, through the second floor, supporting the roof. As a result, the space on the first and second floors has a powerful and transparent relationship. “Supporting pillars” and “picking beams” are the presentation of “big wooden work” with oblique brace and fastening.

▼一层空间概览,1F overall view ©唐徐国

▼吧台,bar ©赵奕龙

▼楼梯,stair ©唐徐国


The double-slope top supported by the “melon seed beam” is connected by a slender metal, with sky light sprinkling through the narrow gap. The angle of the solidified inclined column and the changing angle of light in time form a kind of time poetry which is both constant and instantaneous.

▼二层两点透视,2F two-point perspective ©唐徐国

▼二层一点透视,2F one-point perspective ©赵奕龙

▼光线变化,daylight change ©唐徐国

▼双坡顶和斜柱,the double-slope roof and the inclined columns ©唐徐国


“The support ladder”


▼楼梯节点,staircase detail ©来建筑

“The support ladder” is part of the inclined column system. As the length of the column increases, the inclined column changes from thin to thick and is linked from top to bottom by slender wires. The staircase is completely separated from the ground and floor, strengthening the mysterious sense of “detachment” of the structure. “The support ladder” is another kind of “body” presentation of oblique brace and fastening.

▼随着柱长的增加,斜柱由细变粗,the inclined column changes from thin to thick as the length of the column increases ©赵奕龙

▼俯瞰,overlook ©唐徐国

▼楼梯同地面和楼板完全脱开,the staircase is completely separated from the ground and floor ©赵奕龙

▼楼梯细节,detailed view ©唐徐国


5. “支台”与“摘栏”
“Supporting mesa” and “Picking railing” 


The Mesa used to place objects is spent from the wall in the way of oblique brace, and the semi-transparent triangular plexiglass is assembled into a platform. The railing at the height of the second floor is also pulled together in an inclined posture. The abutment and the column are diagonally braced and linked to the presentation of the “small wood work”.

▼二层台,the mesa on the second floor ©赵奕龙

▼半透的三角形有机玻璃拼成平台,the semi-transparent triangular plexiglass is assembled into a platform ©唐徐国




We used modern glued wood technology in “T roof” , and the strength and durability of wood are better than logs.

▼室内细部,interior detailed view ©唐徐国


Stronger metal components are used to replace the traditional mortise and tenon at the junction. The separation of beam and column, column and foundation makes the wooden structure more capable and clear.

▼交接处采用更为坚固的金属构件,stronger metal components are used at the junction ©赵奕龙

▼咖啡馆入口,entrance ©唐徐国

▼夜间视角,night view ©唐徐国

▼乡村咖啡馆,a new cafe in the village ©赵奕龙

▼场地平面图,site plan ©来建筑

▼一层平面图,plan 1F ©来建筑

▼二层平面图,plan 2F ©来建筑

▼立面图,elevations ©来建筑

▼剖面图,sections ©来建筑

▼墙体剖面,wall section ©来建筑

摄影: 唐徐国,赵奕龙

Project Name: T Roof:Nan Cafe in Taoyuan village, Qimen
Client:Qimen Wannong Tourism Investment and Development co. LTD.
Architects: Atelier LAI
Topology: Coffee House
Wood Construction:Shanghai Wood-lk Construction Design co. LTD.
Location: Shanli, Huangshan, An’Hui, China
Architect in charge: Keyuan Ma
Structural Engineer: Zen Xuewei
Photographs: Xuguo Tang, Yilong Zhao
Structural System: wood structure
Design Team: Cheng Yun, Tang Ming
Site Area: 105 m²
Floor Area: 172 m²
Design Period: 2018.10-2019.5
Construction Period: 2018.12-2019.7

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