MAD wants to bring out the beauty of old Beijing by emphasizing its gaps and voids with a set  of mirroring bubbles

MAD wants to bring out the beauty of old Beijing by emphasizing its gaps and voids with a set of mirroring bubbles

28 Nov 2019 Materialization

MAD Architects restored a 305 square meter Hutong courtyard house in Beijing from the Qing Dynasty. The architects inserted a set of shimmering bubbles in an attempt to revitalize the historic neighborhood and protect it against demolition.

Hutong Bubble 218
Tian Fangfang

At the Venice Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006 MAD envisioned a plan “Beijing 2050” to insert a network of metallic bubbles into the Hutong urban fabric to attract people and resources back to Beijing’s dilapidated historic neighborhoods. This resulted in the first small-scale intervention in 2009 called "Bubble 32."

Hutong Bubble 218
Tian Fangfang

Now ten years later MAD architects realized their second intervention with “Hutong Bubble 218.” This iteration a set of two mirroring metal Bubbles emphasize the brilliant complexity of the Hutong neighborhoods. One sits on top of the roof like an alien ship. The other spills over the roof edge and lands into the courtyard with a staircase. MAD opted for the reflective metal surface to blend into the environment. 

Hutong Bubble 218
Tian Fangfang

MAD’s design also conserves and restores the authentic Hutong architecture. They stripped the doors, window frames and wooden filigree courtyard panels, and replaced them with reproduced elements. The tone was kept intact by using gray bricks. 

Hutong Bubble 218
Tian Fangfang

The building originally served as an international hospital over a hundred years ago. It converted into a residence with more than twenty families. Over the decades make-shift additions and alterations degraded the structural integrity and with gradual decline in living standards the building lost its charm and became vacant.

Hutong Bubble 218
Tian Fangfang

Ma Yansong, founder of MAD, quotes Chinese writer Lao She: “The beauty of old Beijing lies in the gaps and voids between the buildings.”

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