Springstream House

Springstream House

Architect
WEI architects
Location
Fujian, China
Project Year
2017
Category
Housing

Xiaoxi Jia (aka. Springstream House)

WEI architects as Architects

Project description


WEI architects used traditional materials and construction techniques to convert a derelict house in Fujian province into a guesthouse featuring curving tiled roofs and reclaimed timber and windows.


Xiaoxi Jia, translated as Springstream house, is situated in the village of Chi Xi in Fuding County, where dramatic mountains, tea fields and bamboo forests create scenery evocative of typical Chinese ink paintings.


The village was among the first to be targeted by the Chinese government during an initiative launched in 1984 to alleviate extreme poverty in rural villages. Chi Xi village is known as the First Poverty Alleviation Village in China. Thirty years on, however, poverty is still prevalent in Chi Xi, the village's political status has restricted its further development.


WEI architects were commissioned to develop a project that could demonstrate how the renovation of existing properties can help to revitalize villages. An abandoned house typical of many disused properties in the village was chosen for renovation, with the completed building to be used as a bed and breakfast that will generate income for the community.


The two-storey building was carefully restored, and a separate guesthouse was erected on the site of a pair of structures previously used as sheep pens.


All materials for this project are locally sourced. More than 80 percentages of construction materials are existing on site or locally recycled. WEI architects preserved parts of the existing and reclaimed old timber, stone bases and other available materials in the region. Local villagers with building techniques were hired to ensure the endangered traditional construction methods, like the mortise-and-tenon structure and special transformational window-door framing.


The buildings are positioned on the banks of a stream that cuts through mountains with rounded peaks. This scenery informed the shapes of curving tile-covered roofs that shelter verandahs lining both structures.


"The moment I set foot in this village I was touched by the environment, and this feeling drove the entire design process of this project," added WEI's founder and director, Na Wei.

Hundreds years ago, the first arrivals came here to get away from wars and persecutions. The valley has been protecting the settlers since then for many generations. The built environment has become parts of the natural environment over the years. “The perfect thing that we believe is the state of mutual integration, interdependence and vitality of all things in nature. We want our new construction to respect this harmony. Like planting a tree, we intend to have the Xiaoxi Jia (Springingstream) coming from the local and growing into the surroundings, naturally."


The arching roofs also replicate the original house's wooden eaves, which had become bowed over time.


The main house's height and overall plan match those of the original building, partly due to the preservation of one of its gabled masonry walls. Reclaimed timber and windows salvaged from the surrounding region are used throughout the renovations.


Internally, the layout is based on the local tradition for arranging the rooms around a central hearth. The entrance opens onto a communal space containing a kitchen with its original stove.

This space also accommodates a lounge area connected to a tea room on a covered outdoor deck. A window between the kitchen and tea room features shutters that pivot inwards to form an additional work surface.


Local weather is mostly hot and humid year round with occasionally Typhoons. By studying local seasonal wind directions, particular windows for promoting ventilation were designed in this project to increase convection and to achieve passive cooling and dehumidifying.


A series of copper seams incorporated into the poured-concrete floor direct guests from the entrance towards doors leading to the tea room and a terrace facing the stream. The landscaping around the buildings uses local plants and stones reclaimed from the site. A path, lined with bamboo and flowers, leads between the tea room and the guest house.


The renovation process was documented as part of a national television show. Hundreds of millions of reviews and publications of this project nationwide have brought great attentions and various resources to the locals so far. WEI hope the action could break the existing deadlock situation and bring new hope for the local people.


Special aspect description


SOCIAL


Xiaoxi Jia, translated as Springstream house, is situated in the village of Chi Xi in Fuding County. Among the first to be targeted by the Chinese government during an initiative launched in 1984 to alleviate extreme poverty in rural villages, Chi Xi village is known as the First Poverty Alleviation Village in China. Thirty years on, however, poverty is still prevalent in Chi Xi, the village's political status has restricted its further development.

We were invited by a national TV program to renovate a house as an example of protective development. We chose an abandoned house typical of many disused properties in this village for this task. By demonstrating how the renovation of existing properties can help to revitalize villages, we hope our act could break the existing deadlock situation and bring new hope for the local people.

The completed building will be used as the first bed and breakfast, hosted by local villagers, which will generate income for the community and encourage further renovations.

The construction is completed by villagers and local people with building techniques. We preserved parts of the existing and reclaimed old timber, stone bases and other available materials in the region. The endangered techniques for the traditional construction methods, like the mortise-and-tenon structure and special transformational window-door framing has been adapted in the project


The renovation process was documented as part of a national television show. Hundreds of millions of reviews and publications of this project nationwide have brought great attentions and various resources to the locals so far.



ENVIRONMENTAL


All materials for this project are locally sourced. More than 80 percentages of construction materials are existing on site or locally recycled.


The construction is completed by villagers and local people with building techniques. We preserved parts of the existing and reclaimed old timber, stone bases and other available materials in the region. The endangered techniques for the traditional construction methods, like the mortise-and-tenon structure and special transformational window-door framing has been adapted in the project.


Local weather is mostly hot and humid year round with occasionally Typhoons. By studying local seasonal wind directions, we made particular windows for promoting ventilation. By designing a system to increase convection we achieve passive cooling and dehumidifying effects.


Hundreds years ago, the first arrivals came here to get away from wars and persecutions. The valley has been protecting the settlers since then for many generations. The built environment has become parts of the natural environment over the years. The perfect thing that we believe is the state of mutual integration, interdependence and vitality of all things in nature. We want our new construction to respect this harmony. Like planting a tree, we intend to have the Xiaoxi Jia (Springingstream) coming from the local and growing into the surroundings, naturally.


Design Team

Na WEI

WEI architects (www.weiarchitects.com)

….


Project specs


Location: Fuding, Fujian Province, China

Local climate: Subtropical monsoon climate (typhoon comes every year)

Total floor area: 275 sq meters

FAR: 0.47


Main building:

Site area: 190 sq meters

Floor area: 235 sq meters

Dimensions: 11.6*10.8m

Ridge tile height: 6.6m

Cornice height: 2.4-4.2m

Floor: 2 storeys

Structure: mortise and tenon structure

Structure material: recycled Chinese fir (80% of all), local Chinese fir

Roof material: Grey clay tile

Enclosure wall material: recycled Chinese fir (60% of all the enclosure surface), local Chinese fir, existing brick wall, glass

Interior wall material: brick, gypsum board, local Chinese fir

Window& door material: recycled Chinese fir, local Chinese fir, glass

Ground floor material: calendered concrete, recycled Chinese fir

Second floor material: recycled Chinese fir, wood patterned ceramic tile

Passive cooling technology: zonary ventilative windows, the sky window, exhaust fans (Increasing convection to achieve passive cooling and dehumidifying by using changes of monsoon directions)


Guest house:

Site area: 106 sq meters

Floor area: 44 sq meters

Dimensions: 9.8*4.5m

Ridge tile height: 4.1m

Cornice height: 1.6-2.94m

Floor: 1 storey

Construct: mortise and tenon structure

Structure material: 90% recycled Chinese fir, local Chinese fir

Roof material: Grey clay tile

Enclosure wall material: recycled Chinese fir (60% of all the enclosure surface), local Chinese fir, glass

Interior wall material: recycled Chinese fir, brick, gypsum board

Window& door material: recycled Chinese fir, local Chinese fir, glass

Ground floor material: recycled Chinese fir, wood patterned ceramic tile

Landscape:

Site area: 293 sq meters

Category of vegetation: bamboo, white tea tree, zoysia matrella, jasmine, cyperus alternifolius, moss



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