Transgressive street


Micro Communal Center and Their Urban Network


In Collaboration with Yue Wu
Site: Beijing, China


The project is located in Qianliang Hutong, a old historic area in Beijing. Owing to the fact that constantly incoming people from elsewhere in China, the urban fabric becomes increasingly crowded and chaotic, in which we see many informal constrcutions by inhabitants because of the increasing demand for domestic space for daily life and at the same time, the absence of service from government. In this situation, however, a lot of social activities always happen everywhere in this chaotic historic area. Therefore, through rethinking urban leftover space, here the alley specifically, by the way of Hutong renovation, to on the one hand respect the existing status of Hutong, on the other using the leftover as the base, to construct and redefine the building typology of communal center, tight bend the social everyday life with the "everyday space".



Inspiration from Traditional Beijing Courtyard

In the traditional Beijing courtyard, each yard connects all the rooms to integrate them together and also leads themselves public functional. We inherit and develop the original space system to adapt new design purposes.



Evolving Process

[1] Courtyard house: distinct spatial structure for public and privacy, courtyard/spirit place/deity space, the courtyard house gate is the boundary of public and privacy. [2] Compound: privacy of the courtyard were broken, core spirit place disappeared, public space expanded into the courtyard
· Courtyard house gate is unclosed perennially, and the boundary went disappeared. [3] Growing Compound: the variety & quantity of residents increased, extension buildings nibbled public space, the spatial quality decreased. [4] Living Room of Compound: establish public awareness: redefine the boundary, reintegrate public space.



II. Decentralization of Conventional Communal Center




The conventional community center is a proper “isolated center”, requiring people to visit specially. It is a space of heroism, which is set as a center isolated from the community to build a center-toward “center”. There is no direct relationship between it and resident behaviors and routes home. Therefore, we expect to change the rigid status quo and dispell the sense of center.


The alley is as the boundary to define the public zone, at the same time to offset a little bit to form an empty cavity for public activities and acting as a buffer between the public and the domestic space. Openings in the interfaces of alley like doors and windows were cluttered, of which the quality are improved by integral design. Compared with the past time that the spacial experience in the front of house door is monotonous, at present, the empty cavity acts as buffer providing a condition for a variety of social interactions.



III. Construction and Materiality




Minimize Intervention Principle


I show great approval and respect to the existing situation of environment, which is the living dependence of local residents. I hope to improve their living environment and minimize the disturbance to their original life as well. [1] Keep the existing brick walls. [2] Build the public area by steel-timber structure. [3] Protect privacy by glass bricks. [4] Strengthen the sense of public sphere by combination of new and old brick walls to restrict expansion building privately.[5] Arrange doors and windows, heating and ventilation and barrier-free facilities. [6] The reshaped landscape of pavement and planting.



IV. Urban Network


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Urban Network of Micro Communal Center

[1] The micro communal centers distribute around the whole area. It provides a platform for each independent community to communicate and compete. [2] Screen movies at different Hutong irregularly. Let the residents be active to visit each other and see movies initiatively, by virtue of the media notice in each Hutong. [3] The micro parks provided by micro communal centers leave places for the old to “Liuniao” (strolling with pest birds). They can select any Hutong surrounded by to display their birds.




1. Micro Scale

We hope the miro communal center can really serve the residents conveniently for their daily life. It is inlaid on the necessary path to home for everyone, which is an ordinary way from Hutong to the gate of house. Maximum connection has been created between the community miniature center and the community itself, owing to the concept of public living room of compound.  




2. Macro Scale

A macro communal center is a system consisting of many micro communal centers. The micro ones in each Hutong serves for the living behavior of residents. And they also implies the residents that, once they want to do any activity, they can easily realize it considering the nearest community. As soon as these activities are totally blended into the daily life of them, these continuous spatial activities can really become an indispensable part of life.


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Living room of 3 different scales in the cityscape


© 2015