Year: 2018 - 2019
Size: 910 m2
Type: office
Status: completed
Location: Beijing, China
Client: private client

Partners in charge: Chen Chen, Nicola Saladino
Design team: Alexandre Braleret, Yangyang Liu, Si Chen, Muzhi Chen, Mi Zhang, Jintong Duan, Xinxing Chen, Yuxuan Chen, Peiyu Hu, Xin Li, Ruiting Wang

Structural consultant: Lixin Ji
Lighting consultant: Kaihe Studio
Furniture: Bentu, Hay

The project is located in the historic neighborhood of Xuanwumen, Beijing. Hidden in a small quiet alley and flanked by a primary school on the Southeast side and an important Roman Catholic Church on the West side, the plot was formerly occupied by a coal factory that was decommissioned ten years ago and left abandoned ever since.

Underneath a thick coat of black dust inherited from the years of the ash-spitting furnaces, pretty much the totality of the plot area was covered, leaving just narrow gaps between the metallic roofs to cast a blade of light to the interiors. After freeing up the central yard from a metallic roof structure, three buildings with very different typologies stood around it: on the North side a traditional pitched-roof grey-brick house guarded the entrance, as the last remain of the original hutong fabric; in the West, a warehouse shed with a long sequence of wooden trusses transformed the deep space into a crumbling basilica filled with coal; finally, at the Southern end, a red brick boxy building hid in its deep basement the noisy industrial production.

The client’s goal was to redevelop the 800sqm plot into a flexible office space that would target young and dynamic offices. The brief included a series of functional requirements ranging from conventional small office units to open working spaces, meeting rooms, a dining area and a kitchen, but we were also asked to design the layout in a way that it could allow future tenants to host events and gatherings for large crowds.

Due to the strict preservation guidelines of Beijing historical city center, the renovation had to maintain intact the volumetry of the courtyard so our intervention focused on a new interface with the garden and redefined the interior spaces, preserving all the original brick structure and reconstructing the industrial pitched roof without trusses, in order to maximize the headroom.
The functions are organized as a series of boxes of various sizes piled up within the existing envelop; their different heights depend on their function and the degree of privacy required and their distribution responds to the pace of the original structure. The “negative volumes” between the boxes provide flexible double-height spaces that can easily incorporate new future functional requirements and create an interesting rhythm of compressions and decompressions along the main axis.

The roof is carved in multiple locations to form light wells and interior gardens, spreading a diffused light throughout all the working areas and generating new views towards the surroundings. The new glazed atriums help organize the functional areas and expand the perceived depth, multiplying it through a series of reflections. They not only provide natural illumination and ventilation to the full depth of the building, but also work as encapsulated fragments of nature that one can contemplate while working: a tree branch cut out from a squared patch of sky, the reflection of the sun onto the marble cross of the nearby church...

Finally, a continuous dark steel ribbon meanders across the whole project to navigate through and connect across the three buildings, taking multiple configurations: a reception entrance, a covered hallway, a mezzanine suspended in the central space or a staircase leading to the rooftop terrace. This band of steel is the physical materialization of the new circulation as well as a memory of the industrial past of the buildings.





确定了这个新的空间序列后,煤仓屋顶在不同的位置被打开以形成采光井庭院 ,让充足的光线可以扩散到不同的办公区域中。同理,我们将东立面的采光最大化,把它处理成一系列的带有落地窗的盒子,让光线能深入主层和夹层空间。玻璃采光井庭院不仅为室内提供了必要的采光,也让间隙中的自然成为漫步空间时的驻足之处。采光井在屋顶的开口将周围场地的标志物框入成景,或是呈现出蓝天映衬着的浓荫老槐树,或是聚焦在阳光点亮的教堂十字架。玻璃中庭通过一系列镜面反射将空间的感知尺度放大,同时也营造出空间之间微妙的界限。