Hutong Bubble in Beijing

The metallic bubble in one of Beijing’s hutong districts is a real eye-catcher. Commissioned by an exclusive wine store, MAD architects expanded on the existing courtyard house with a new construction that includes the bubble. Acting as an enclosure for the stairs to the roof terrace, the bubble’s gleaming surface reflects its surroundings and lends the courtyard a larger feel. Architects: MAD architects A large number of central Beijing’s traditional hutong districts, with their intricately woven narrow streets and courtyards, have been destroyed in recent years. Many of the one-storey residential buildings have made way for taller constructions and residents relocated. In 2006 study, MAD architects proposed to revitalise these areas with metallic ‘bubbles’ in order to make them more attractive for new groups. The first bubble was completed in 2009 for an exclusive wine store in the Bing Ma Si hutong. The residential building was renovated and, alongside the new, one-storey construction on the opposite side of the courtyard, now serves as a sales area. The bubble nestles against the new part of the building, forming the enclosure for the stairs up to the roof terrace and the vistors’ toilet. Its reflective surface mirrors the old building and the treetops, making the courtyard appear larger. The supportive framework is made from steel pipes, upon which the 2mm-thick chrome-plated panel is welded. The interior, which is covered with white latex paint, and the oval overhead lighting give the space a certain breadth and airiness.
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