Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre” is a micro renewal project located about one kilometer from Tiananmen Square. The Renewal project aims to highlight the potential in these hutong neighborhoods which are largely unique to the Chinese capital, but are gradually being demolished. Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre is one of the winners in the Thirteenth Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Project Details

  • Architect: Zhang Ke (ZAO/standardarchitecture)
  • Location: Beijing, China
  • Client: Dashilar Investment
  • Completion: 2014

Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre References

A small-scale project that enriches bonds amongst communities and revives Hutong life. Cha’er Hutong is a quiet spot one kilometer from Tiananmen Square in the city centre.

Number 8 in this neighborhood, located near a major mosque, is a typical da-za-yuan(big-messy-courtyard) once occupied by over a dozen families. The courtyard is about 300-400 years old and once housed a temple that was then turned into residences in the 1950s.

Over the past fifty or sixty years, each family built a small add-on kitchen in the courtyard. Almost all of them have been wiped out with the renovation practices of the past years. In redesigning, renovating and reusing the informal add-on structures instead of eliminating them, it was intended to recognize them as an important historical layer and as a critical embodiment of Beijing’s contemporary civil life in Hutongs that has so often been neglected. In concert with the families, a nine-meter-square children’s library built of plywood was inserted underneath the pitched roof of an existing building. Under a big Chinese scholar tree, one of the former kitchens was redesigned into a six-meter-square miniature art space made from traditional bluish-grey brick. Through this small-scale intervention in the courtyard, bonds between communities have been strengthened and the Hutong life of local residents enriched.

Aga Khan Development Network

Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre Gallery

Hutong Children’s Library and Art Centre Map

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