Folding Roof Courtyard House / MAT Office
Text description provided by the architects. The project is located in Xishaoqu Village, Miyun District, Beijing. In this large village which is surrounded by mountains on three sides, most of the existing houses are traditional northern farmhouses. The owner of the project hopes to cooperate with the village to revitalize the vacant courtyards as a leisure place and weekend homestay, with the operation services provided by the villagers. Folding Roof Courtyard is one of these courtyards, which is planned as a public function, such as reception and workshop, due to its good site conditions.
The courtyard had been rebuilt before, and at the time we got the design commission, the main concrete frame structure and part of the roof had been completed. The building covers an area of about 180 square meters and consists of a main house and a wing house, the two houses are the same height of the double-pitched roof with an axis of east-west, but the depth of the wing is larger than the main house, and express an inappropriate proportion.
Based on the original concrete structure, we redefined the primary and secondary order and architectural form of the building through this continuously folded roof: the main house was partially raised, while the roof of the wing house was changed from two to four. The continuous roof brings north-south high windows to the interior space. View from the outside village, the high windows on the south side define the properties of the building’s public service function and can be well identified at night; From the interior of the building, two high windows on the north and south sides bring high ceilings and bright light to the workshop space in the wing.
Material Use – The design uses schist as the building exterior wall as well as landscape material of the Folding Roof Courtyard, combined with the rough stone wall of earthen masonry, so that the building and environment are integrated, in order to continue the original rugged and powerful architectural character of the mountainous countryside in northern China. The entrance to the courtyard is an enlarged canopy, which is poured in one go with concrete from small pieces of wood formwork, which adds a sense of brutality and echoes the gray-white fence commonly used in the village.
Spatial Arrangement – The new roof was designed with steel beams on the original concrete frame and with wooden purlins and lookout panels above. The mix of structures and traditional roof practices were easy to understand in construction and familiar to the village’s craftsmen. The single slope and reverse slope space generated by the continuous folding roof bring different internal space experiences to the building, and the beams and columns of the original structure form a rational structural logic together with the slope roofs above it; The sloped roof forms a pitched house type from the exterior, but is reversed internally into an inverted reverse slope space. In addition, this sort of line + surface combination also strengthens the architectural abstraction of the space because of its contingency, absence of presuppositions, and asymmetric characteristics.
Window Typology – Compared with other residential courtyards, the Folding Roof Courtyard is mainly used as a public activity, so the use of windows is greatly increased in the design to enhance the interaction and space penetration inside and outside of the building. We designed four types of windows in the building: large high windows under the sloping roof of the north and south facades, floor-to-ceiling windows facing the yard, long windows with views and ventilation, and small square windows with high lighting. This multi-style, multi-directional window opening method allows all parts of the building could enjoy the woods up close and the mountains far away.
When designing for rural environments outside the city, we want to be able to complete a process of transformation –contemporary architectural vocabulary and construction systems, in combining with traditional materials, in order to balance the consumer demand, the rural environment, and architectural form. At the same time, the project adjusted the architectural form by placing a continuous folding roof, transforming the original two separate houses in the courtyard into an interconnected group of buildings, resulting in a dry, powerful group form with the characteristics of northern mountain villages; And according to this set of spatial operations, a system of a series of windows for lighting and viewing in the building is established, as well as a special spatial experience under the roof with a group of reversed slopes.