Old house is restored in order to trigger revitalization of Suzhou, China heritage area

Located in the core of the historic town of Suzhou, China, the traditional residence of the Bei family site covers about 2500 square meters. A beautiful and innovative renovation project has given it new life by transforming the historic home into a modern apartment.

The house renovation project by B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio is also an exploration of urban regeneration potential of this historic area. It introduces new, high-quality lifestyle into the old architecture, offers an opportunity for the historic town to revitalize in a more modern context.

For the renovation of the four old houses, all the original wooden structure is preserved with simple reinforcement and restoration. Since the lack of maintenance, the building status no longer suits modern lifestyles, the main focus is to resolve functions that can meet the needs of modern daily life, such as air conditioning, heating system, shower room etc.

The red paint from the original wood structure is removed and changes to black paint using the traditional lacquer process, together with natural wood frame of the windows and doors, reflect the beauty and elegance of the old architecture. Materials with natural textures such as stones, walnut wood are used for the interior space, setting a simple and natural tone.

Its traditional Chinese garden consists of four ancient wooden structure architectures with courtyards built in the Qing Dynasty, dating back over a century, plus four other concrete buildings built in the 1990s.

For the renovation of the concrete structure buildings, the design goes for a more relaxed and modern atmosphere using pure and minimalist language. Comparing to the old houses, materials with lighter color are used such as oak wood and light grey terrazzo floor. By boldly introducing the modern design into the historic garden, the juxtaposition of old and new shows an interesting dialogue between the tradition and the modern lifestyle.

The main theme of the design is to inherit the spirit of the historic house not just by preserving and restoring its appearance but most importantly by recreating its spatial experience. Even though the house is to be transformed into a modern apartment, the designer do not want it to be separated into several isolated rooms.

In fact, more than half of the space is used as public space, such as shared kitchen, shared study room, art galley, public bars and spa… Apart from the private room, the guests will also have the whole garden as the extensions of their home where they can communicate with the others. The definition of home have been expanded both in terms of concept and space.

The renovation of courtyard is another focus of the design. For the rooms had no courtyard in the original plan, they also set a space used as a garden or terrace, the open relationship between the courtyard and the interior diffusing the boundary between the indoor and outdoor space and at the same time achieved the transition from public to private.

The design of the courtyard at the entrance also takes inspiration from the classical garden which seeks to recreate natural landscapes in miniature.

The architects transformed the original parking lot into a modern waterscape courtyard, with a sunken seating area in the middle of the water, bringing people closer to the nature and creating a unique view and experience.

See B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio website.

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