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Model House

















Project Initiative

BWAO’s collection of previous project models was in a nomadic state and had always desired to find a home back into the hutong area. The project initiative started with the idea of bringing them back.



No.28 is an independent courtyard that is sited close to the southern end of Nanbanjie Hutong. The only building in the courtyard is a single house that has five units, each of which is 3m in width and 7m in depth, a dimension rarely seen in courtyard houses. As a result, the clearance under the roof ridge reaches 5m in height, perfect for storage and display. The rest of the units are still occupied with local residents.


Section and Elevation Challenges

The design responds to sectional and elevational challenges to hutong houses. Seven consecutive levels of planes are introduced into the space, forming multiple platforms for models display, bookshelves and working tables, a layout that is exhibition in section and office in plan. The facade is a single window that opens fully to the patio, forming a glass canopy that covers the ground plane, blurring the inside and outside. This final sectional array condition echos the roof curve that is typical of a courtyard house.


Built to a Budget

Several design decisions are made to a budget: the ground is infilled to a height with demolition debris; previous facade to the house is reused as frames for patio gate and fence; patio is paved with historical bricks recycled from a previous hutong project; the office stools are donated from a restaurant in the hutong that went bankrupt due to COVID. However, all these elements are reborn in the new project and add up to the richness of hutong story.


Ongoing Project

The newly renovated space debuted in Beijing Design Week 2021, providing exhibition space for a watercolor painter, fulfilling one of the scenarios that it was designed for. How it will be used otherwise, together with the rest of the courtyard when emptied out, is yet to be discussed in the years to come.

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