Huangdu Art Center // MAD

Beijing, China

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The beauty of old Beijing exists in the empty space between architecture, where trees grow and birds live. As such, the buildings themselves do not have to show any special shape in order to be unique. _Lao She Old Beijing is composed of Hutongs, closely woven districts of communal courtyard homes.

The basic elements of these districts are one-storey buildings, that, repeated at dense scales, result in unique geometric patterns. However, this traditional urban fabric isi ncreasingly under threat as entire neighborhoods are forced to make way for the larger, monumental modern architecture of Beijing today.The site of this project presents this issue in microcosm.

Located near the heart of old Beijing, close to historic monuments such as theForbidden City and opposite the National Art Museum, the site presents a dual condition: while small scale Hutongs still border Western edge, the Eastern edge is bounded by a modern axis of major roads, shopping malls and hotels.To solve this dilemma, MAD proposes a building composed of many small Hutong-scale pieces, but at the same time recognized as a larger overall volume.

This is achieved by stacking and shifting different courtyard layers on top of one another, creating an ethereal, semi-solid piece of urban fabric, a vague geometric shape that maintains the spatial relationships and hollow core of the courtyards.This proposal extends the city fabric from small to large, a gradual yet significant transition between two scales, and is a means towards reconciling the old and new Beijing.

The building is an urban instrument, representing Beijing’s new aspirations to be a forwardlooking city that also respects its past..

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