Small is beautiful


Matchmaking project for 5 dutch and 5 chinese architectural firms under supervision of the Dutch Architectural institute NAi

Hui Long Guan
Beijing, China

260 student-housingunits
260 m² communal space
1600m² commercial space (physiotherapy/ dental office)

Hui Long Guan, China

A strategy for adaptable high quality design

Five Dutch and five Chinese architects were invited to make a design for an urban and architectural plan for a neighbourhood in Hui Long Guan, Beijing. This was done under supervision of the Dutch architectural institute (NAi). The urban plan was made in collobaration with all parties, the architectural design of the different plots was made separately.

The aim of the project is to find a high quality design in low-cost housing. We use our experience in Dutch low-cost housing to translate to Chinese circumstances. Standardization of solutions will lead to a combination of high quality and affordable products. This project researches prototypes mass production. The project consists of high-quality standardized units (building blocks) for one or for two person households. These building blocks can be arrayed and/or stacked in a wide variety of combinations. Slabs, towers, large city blocks or low-rise suburban apartment buildings? All are very well conceivable with this prototype. The possibilities of deployment are unlimited. The type can adapt to any urban setting and to every climate zone throughout China.

small = beautiful

Many floor plans for small housing suffer from undefined space for lack of zoning. Combining many functions on a tiny surface then leads to a chaotic living space. Designing within a 21,5 meters deep urban block is used to the advantage of the floor plans of the individual dwelling.

The residential units are arranged along a central corridor. This space receives natural light through the overhead rooflights. Through glass-blocks in the floor this daylight filters down to the lower levels. With a  varying width, that stretches the corridor to an luxurious width of 4 meters at the entrances of the units, the corridor offers much more than a circulation route. It is a vibrant space that allows for relaxed encounters with your neighbors and thus helps create community.

The apartment units have deep floor plans with a zoning of different functions. From inside to the outside the unit  is gradually getting more natural light and the functional lay-out is organized accordingly.

The one-person unit is 14 m2 in area, but it certainly offers the experience of a bigger home. The bathroom is situated directly aside from the entrance, not unlike what we find in hotel-rooms. The small kitchen is in the central part. The living area is lay-out on two levels. Directly adjacent to the kitchen is an active flexible area, and elevated onto a podium is the area to relax in your easy chair. In the active part the kitchen folds open to reveal a table.

This post is also available in: NL

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