Sunday, August 13, 2017

Day 2 - Beijing Summer School - visiting the Hutongs

This morning we gathered and got a lecture from Xin Zhang who studied our project area the Quinglong Hutong for 2 years. The project manager knows every detail about these area which was back then the home for the people working already for the emperor within the Yuan dynasty around 1300. Since the mid 20th century these traditional courtyard houses with a very clear layout and one storey height houses were often demolished to create space for the booming city. 

For those houses which are located on narrow streets called Huntongs who had not been demolished became a home for the poor. And while en extension to a second floor was first not an option and later also forbidden the courtyard was filled with buildings also, which leads nowadays to a very dense area with very tiny and narrow streets. On the plot of one courtyard house which was home for one family back then houses more than 8 families nowadays. 

The people living in these dense area are very busy to earn money and make a business out of their homes, while the pressure of the government becomes bigger and bigger to buy these houses in order to make place for the future and bigger commercial and residential buildings. 

The contrast in these area could not be bigger, while the main street divided the area into two worlds. In south poverty and houses one storey high and north glass and steel skyscrapers forming a technology and business park. 

In order to help those people in the Hutongs we started to design concepts in form of urban street furnitures that will provide storage space, tables, seats and elements that allow to sell their goods. 

The design phase was ended by a lecture from Xiao Dong who talked about materializing architecture and the experiment in 1:1 scale.