Modernizing Beijing / X-ploded Siheyuan

By modernizing the city, Beijing is upgrading to a higher level of prosperity. At the same time though we see the reverse side of a global development, the interventions in the city ruin parts of the city by destroying its traditional architecture, in particular the traditional hutong-areas, which are one of the main characteristics of this city, and which carry a long history of Beijing’s ancient life and architecture.
My interest is mainly concerned within a dilemma of upgrading Beijing to a modern wealthy city on the one hand and on the other hand destroying part of its tradition. How could an architect operate within a dilemma like this? Does the architect need to choose the one or the other position or is there a possible solution to a new architecture which embeds the local traditions? My goal is to find the latter: architecture that embeds local tradition.
The project is, ideally, situated on the border of the Tiananmen Square and the Dazhalan hutong area. It consists of separate commercial/housing units on ground level (connected below ground level). On the urban scale I tried to find a transition between the two highly contrasting urban spaces, introducing an informal urban typology with adjacent squares rather then streets or large open spaces. On the scale of one unit I reinterpreted the horizontal scheme of the traditional Beijing courtyard house into a vertical housing unit. One of the traditional elements I implemented, in a defamiliarizated way, was the iceray system of typical Chinese lattice design.

About Frank Reitsma