Layering Courtyard by Archstudio: 2018 Best of Year Winner for Building Transformation
This is not the first time Archstudio reinvented an archetypical courtyard-style siheyuan as a mixed-use rental venue for events and overnight stays. But Layering Courtyard in Beijing is perhaps the most tech-forward, exploiting facial-recognition software and intelligent controls that allow guests to book the seven suites online and check in by code scan. Developed by the boutique bed-and-breakfast brand Hutel, the 5,700-square-foot facility encompasses three rectangular structures set parallel to one another and connected via glass-box walkways that skirt bamboo courtyards. The structures edging the property—once a brothel, later a bakery—date to the early 20th century, while the middle one is new build.
The street-facing southernmost building, which boasts original arched windows and doors, is a gathering space that houses a kitchen and dining area as well as reception, the bar, office, and warehouse. Decades-old wooden beams and columns here and in the two-story guest house were preserved—as was the layering of public to private: “Privacy gradually increases as you penetrate the property,” says firm founder and principal architect Han Wenqiang, who collaborated on the project with Huang Tao.
The airy middle pavilion, with a newly built steel frame, has an epoxy-coated concrete-slab floor and a standing-seam metal roof that mimics slate shingles. Mirror-finished stainless-steel tubes below the ceiling dissolve spatial boundaries, as do the glass walls selectively frosted to conjure rising mist. Clear acrylic furnishings enhance the light and transparent effect. Conceived as flex space, this interstitial zone can function as an annex for the front restaurant, a lounge for the guest suites, or an exhibition gallery. “We rearranged the relationship between inside and outside,” Han says, “and artificial and natural.”
Project Team: Zhang Fuhua; Zheng Baowei; Dong Tianhua; Song Guochao.