urban backyard . Beijing


Located on Chengfu Road between Beijing University and Tsinghua University, urban backyard is renovated from part of a 10-module typical factory space. About 280 square meters in its size and measures at 12m(width) x 24m(depth) x 8m(height), the space occupies 2 modules of the overall 10 module industrial space.

Since standardarchitecture happened to have renovated the same two modules next to the “backyard” two years ago, as an experiment this time we choose to renovate the space with a completely different departure point. This time instead of merely focusing our attention on the discovery and exposure of the raw industrial space as we did last time, we are more curious on the possibilities of bringing in new programs and new public spaces. Is it possible to bring in separate programs into the small space? Is it possible to bring new means of urban life to the neighboring urban area? How much could a small scale renovation project influence the life of urban dwellers? In a city that is changing with unprecedented high speed and grand scale, what role could a small scale building renovation play in the overall urban transformation?

To create more space for all the new programs, we excavated 1.5 meters underground so that we are able to build a new 3-story steel structure inside the building. In the mean time the space was further divided into two independent parts: a 3x24 meter narrow deep space and a 9x24 meter rectangular space. Within the 9 meter width part, there is a music bar on the first level; a bookstore, a coffee shop and a sunny courtyard on the second level; and on the third level, there is an Italian restaurant. For the 3 meter width narrow space, the first level is the kitchen for the restaurant, the second level is an art gallery and the third level is office space. The sunny backyard on the second floor functions as a central space to organize all the different shops, and is becoming an interesting interior public space for the surrounding urban area.

Coinciding with the interior, the façade of the shops is designed as two separate shops. One is the gallery and the other the bookstore, coffee shop and restaurant. The gallery façade is a pure masonry volume built out of local grey brick, with the door also built of bricks. The book and coffee shop façade is constructed by a layer of 6mm thick steel panels,and random textures of the steel panels were carefully preserved.

Main entrance of the urban backyard is designed as a thick steel wall that could be rotated into a position that is perpendicular to the façade. The rotating wall becomes an intriguing message for the passing biers that the space inside has been transformed into a unique public space that invites all sorts of urban activities.

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