Year 2008Location Beijing, ChinaTypology Art Gallery, Hotel Site Area 6,300 sqmBuilding Area 46,000sqmStatus Design in-progress The beauty of old Beijing existsin the empty space between architecture, where trees grow and birdslive. As such, the buildings themselves do not have to show any specialshape in order to beunique. _Lao She Old Beijing is composed of Hutongs, closely woven districts ofcommunal courtyard homes.
The basic elements of these districts areone-storey buildings, that, repeated at dense scales, result in uniquegeometric patterns. However, this traditional urban fabric isincreasingly under threat as entire neighborhoods are forced to makeway for the larger, monumental modern architecture of Beijing today.The site of this project presents this issue in microcosm.
Located nearthe heart of old Beijing, close to historic monuments such as theForbidden City and opposite the National Art Museum, the site presentsa dual condition: while small scale Hutongs still border Western edge,the Eastern edge is bounded by a modern axis of major roads, shoppingmalls and hotels.To solve this dilemma, MAD proposes a building composed of many smallHutong-scale pieces, but at the same time recognized as a largeroverall volume.
This is achieved by stacking and shifting differentcourtyard layers on top of one another, creating an ethereal,semi-solid piece of urban fabric, a vague geometric shapethat maintains the spatial relationships and hollow core of thecourtyards.This proposal extends the city fabric from small to large, a gradualyet significant transition between two scales, and is a means towardsreconciling the old and new Beijing.
The building is an urbaninstrument, representing Beijing’s new aspirations to be a forwardlooking city that also respects its past..