Arquitectura Viva
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Tea Café in Beijing by Archstudio

In the central neighborhoods of Beijing years ago, hutongs were the norm. Formed by narrow alleys, low houses surrounding a courtyard, and communal washrooms, the hutongs were then degraded, to the point that for the Olympic Games of 2008, the authorities decided to demolish a good part of them, replacing them with dwellings which are as hygienic as they are conventional. Eventually the remaining hutongs began to draw attention and be considered near-icons of China’s past. Turned into objects of nostalgia, they have been subjected to some interesting restoration projects.

Among them is this tea café located in the East District of the Chinese capital, built over a preexisting enclave formed by some very valuable but poorly preserved houses dating back to the Qing dynasty, and several sheds made of sheet metal. The intervention involved tearing down the sheds and restoring the old timber frame, the brick walls, and the traditional roofs, through an operation of cleaning and replacement of construction elements. This recovered piece of history was then superposed with contemporary elements: a gallery halfway between inside and out, glazed curved surfaces bringing in daylight in abundance, and exquisite bamboo lattices. The result is a building of great subtlety, built in two time periods.
Timeless China

Timeless China

Luis Fernández-Galiano
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