White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Living room. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
1st floor of living room. Photo by Wang Ning.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
1st floor of living room. Photo by Wang Ning.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Basement. Photo by Wang Ning.

 

The very first article that I compiled for Yellowtrace investigated the idea of the modern day Chinese Hutong, looking in particular at the very cool work of Standard Architecture, and how these residential clusters can be retained as a historical landmark yet improve on the living conditions for those that inhabit them. Now, as a continuation of that theme and China‘s on-going architectural liberation, behold the minimalist dream that is the White House by .

Over the last few years Arch Studio have begun to grab the attention of the design world for their beautifully refined designs and have now started to collect numerous titles and accolades for this catalogue of fine work. This is also not the only Hutong refurbishment project to come out of the office, in 2015 they also undertook a jaw-dropping conversion of abandoned spaces into a community tea room and cafe. With a clean and fresh approach that they apply to all their work, the White House displays a truly masterful balance of sensitivity to the old, whilst demonstrating an intrigue and celebration of the new.

 

Related Post: Micro-Housing: Hutong Experiments by Standardarchitecture // Beijing, China.

 

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Stairs. Photo by Wang Ning.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Basement study. Photo by Wang Ning.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Study. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Study. Photo by Xia Zhi.

 

Completed in 2014, the 160sqm home is located within Beijing‘s Dongcheng district on the edge of a small Hutong shared with several other families. The original, unassuming structure sits quietly as it has done for many years with little to indicate that the interior has been radically overhauled to create a zen-like calm and purity. It is striking how the project oozes a sense of ease and effortless simplicity despite the designer’s obvious rigour and scrupulous nature.

The brief was to refurbish the existing, dark block to suit the needs of a young couple who have an evident extraordinary collection of books. The outcome is a monochrome project where the all white fit-out contrasts sharply with the grey concrete and brick exterior; an intelligent insertion of a new staircase also allows daylight to flood the building from above. A key design aspect is the theme of ‘grids’ which appear throughout all three levels, these elements are used to filter light, obscure views and divide spaces. This introduced regularity creates a tranquil environment which values its privacy, a preserved feature of the original building.

 

Related Story: The Art of Giving Good White.

 

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
2nd floor aisle. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
2nd floor aisle. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Bedroom. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Stairs. Photo by Xia Zhi.

White House by Arch Studio | Yellowtrace
Roof top. Photo by Xia Zhi.

 

Despite the simple looking palette, on closer inspection, there is an evident playful exploration of texture and light penetration. This can be seen with the single painted brickwork wall adjoining the staircase which acts as a reminder of the existing fabric, and further with the perforated steel balustrade which aids in maximising natural light gains. The building culminates on the rooftop area with a new glazed box addition, allowing access to the valuable external space whilst providing views out across the surrounding treetops. On a predominantly inward looking scheme, this is the only external feature and is strategically placed to not be visible from street level.

All the evidence would seem to suggest that Arch Studio have managed to deliver something remarkable here, a project that successfully respects the existing but is a far cry from the haphazard nature of a Hutong. They have combined order, precision and crisp lines to deliver something that is stunning and, lets face it, completely awesome.

 

Related Story: Perfectly Perforated.

 

 


[Photography by Xia Zhi & Wang Ning as noted.]

 



About The Author

Rachel Maude

Rachel is originally from the north of the England where she studied and lived for the majority of her life. After qualifying as an Architect and working in London for a number of years, she made the move to Melbourne in the search of a new adventure. Her work to date has covered a range of sectors and scales, and although a lover of all things design, her passion and expertise lay in smaller scale residential projects and seeing them through to completion. An environmentalist at heart, she has a keen interest in sustainability and minimising mankind's impact on the planet. When not fulfilling her designing duties, if the sun is shining you will find Rachel outdoors - always eager to explore new places by foot or pedal power (whilst also topping up her tan!).

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