Beijing Design Week, which finished this month, holds a solid presence in the city due to a series of projects that now renovate the city and sparks new work towards contemporary architectural, interiors, and lifestyle.
Beijing Design Week, now in its fifth year, is a design exploration that looks at innovation, cultural and social integration, architecture and urbanism within the city’s most traditional contexts, the event maintains a research-based outlook. At the core of the week are two initiatives which take over Dashilar and Baitasi, two separate hutong areas of Beijing in need of renovation.
‘We didn’t just want to come in and showcase things,’ says Beatrice Leanza, the Italian-born director of the event for the past four years, ‘but to simulate what new services could be needed here.’ She cites Baitasi’s White Stupa Temple in the west part of the city center, as the best example of her team’s work. ‘The developer of the area asked three architects to think about [a] methodology of renovation for courtyard houses that could be potentially applied on a large scale,’ she explains.
The renovations propose a more contemporary living setting and conditions the area, which also sparked a first batch of related research programs.
The interventions in both neighborhoods include outdoor furniture and installations in public spaces, displays of research and conceptual methodology, and some practical renovations for public and residential buildings. The latter offers a spectrum of hutong life and its potential, including People’s Architecture Office’s Courtyard House Plugin in Dashilar (a mobile solution to temporarily expand the limited space of the houses’ interiors) and TAO‘s Split Courtyard House in Baitasi, which efficiently redesigns the house’s interior structure while offering a good quality of life and space. Other hutong-focussed initiatives include local architectural practice Urbanus’ exhibition on the history of the neighborhoods and research on various restoration solutions.