The Commune By The Great Wall, Beijing,
One look around the expansive metropolitans
of China and theres no denying that a building boom
dominates this country. Hi-rises tower over centuries-old
temples, technologically advanced buildings mingle with low-income
housing and you cant help but notice modern styling
mixing with old-world flavor. And this phenomenon is not strictly
occurring in the bustling Chinese cities outside of
Beijing, in the mountainous and picturesque area of Yanqing
County, a new outcropping of modern housing is intermingling
with one of the oldest relics in China, the Great Wall.
The Commune by the Great Wall is a development
planned as a site for weekend houses complete with scenic
views and a shared clubhouse. In this first phase, the houses
are used as models for potential clients to tour and are rebuilt
at the clients request. The developers, SOHO China,
approached 12 young Asian architects to design the modern
dwellings. Venezuelan-born Antonio Ochoa, whose practice is
based in China, was one of the architects chosen for this
project. His completed design is the Cantilever House.
The cantilever design made sense given
that Ochoa was working with a rocky, uneven landscape. He
explains that his goal was to "not intervene with the
surroundings, allowing the house to enjoy the beautiful landscape
and the mountain to be part of the house." The house
stands on two supporting concrete walls and is cantilevered
on three sides. The dramatic slate stairway leads to the entry
of the house but also extends towards the rooftop garden.
The rooftop, designed with a garden, pond, deck and bench
seating looks out onto the valley and up to the Great Wall.
Ochoas motive with his architecture
is not to have a signature style but to "have the architecture
belong to the place where it is built." His goal to keep
the house as a seemingly natural part of the landscape is
not only seen in the shape of the house but also detected
in his choice of colors and materials. The red-colored concrete,
which references both traditional Chinese imperial architecture
as well Ochoas own Latin-American background, blends
in with the ruddy barren winter hills. The hard wood portion
of the exterior balances with the summer months heavily
When designing the interior, the developers
guidelines were minimal so Ochoa created the layout to the
house as if he were to live there. The internal staircase
leads to four bedrooms, each with varied views and access
to natural light. The two structural walls create a spacious
double-high living room and the glass-paneled wall opens up
to a terrace. Creating a grid pattern on the facades, some
of the glass panels are intermittently replaced with isolation
panels made of wood and polyurethane.
Ochoas belief that architecture
is "a corporeal, aesthetic experience," and must
be perceived by "traveling through the space" rings
true with those who have toured his house. As phase two of
The Commune by the Great Wall has begun and requests for copies
of the model houses are made, the architect finds that his
design is a popular choice six additional Cantilever
Houses are under construction.
5,005 sq. ft.