Site is located at the south-west corner of a mixed-used courtyard in Xiaojingchang Hutong in Beijing. The site is only 26.1㎡. Lighting, ventilation and privacy are major problems on the site. First time the architect has been here, he was drawn to the jujube and the toon tree at the entrance. The relationship between the site and the tree suggests the potential of a building here. The architect decides to construct a studio integrated into nature.

▲入口草图Sketch for the entrance

▲树影墙草图Sketch for the wall catching the

▲剖透视图Perspective section

▲入口 Entrance

▲枣树 Jujube Tree

▲总图 Site Plan


Exploration of space begins with the prototype of “Siheyuan”, four-sided enclosed courtyard. With the site constrained, the building is enclosed on four-sides. Within the perimeter walls, inner space opens up to nature through a courtyard. Under the constraint of space, the central courtyard is compressed into patio on one side. This kind of enclosed courtyard with a narrow patio is a typical spatial typology in Chinese vernacular architecture, where the enclosed perimeter wall provides privacy and opens inward to nature.

▲生成图解, Generation diagram


The architects divides 3.6㎡ out of 26.1㎡ as patio. The staircase is placed under the patio as well as a storage room. The patio dramatically transforms the quality of the space and improves the lighting and ventilation of the building. Along with the double-height space and skylight on the south side, ample lighting is brought into the once enclosed space.

▲悬挑台阶Stairs cantilevered from the building

▲仰视天窗Looking up to the skylight


Within the extremely limited space, constructing a spatial experience with various depth of nature is rather challenging. Through “view borrowing”, the architect brings nature into the building, creating a rich internal world.

▲晨光When the dawn breaks

▲晴天Sunny day

▲阴天Cloudy day

▲树影Shadow of the tree

▲树阴Shadow of the tree

▲云景View of Cloud

▲雪景View of Snow

▲晚霞 At dusk


The building consists of two floors and a roof deck. Part of the first floor is dug down in order to increase floor height for multi-purpose uses: tea drinking , socializing, conferencing, mobile working and dining. Quality of the space throughout the day changes as the light fells from the skylight and patio among different times. The cast-concrete counter integrates charging station and sink, equipped for all-purpose use. The top of the shelf is removed and the second tray is carved out for light to shine through.

▲吧台与书架Counter and book shelves

▲书架轴测图Axonometric drawing of the book shelves


The second floor is perfect for daily office use with ample lighting. A set of low cabinets is set on the edge of the double-height space, as the railing and the cover for the internal unit of the central air-conditioning. The cabinet is attached to the long table as one. The air conditioning is hidden from the visitors. One can simply enjoy the comfort of the perfect room temperature with the minimalistic interior. The stairs to the second floor using 8mm steel plates cantilever from the wall appearing aloft also allowing light to enter the lower level.

▲光线透过天窗进入二层空间Light enters the second floor from the skylight

▲天窗自然光Natural light from the skylight

▲楼梯间看向办公区Looking at the office from the staircase

▲树下的楼梯间The stairs under the tree

▲台阶细部The detail of the stairs


The northern wall is the most expressive section of the building. Light shines through the jujube leaves, and the shadow hits on the surface the white wall , as if a Chinese ink painting spreads on the canvas with the summer breeze. Following the angle of the sun rises and falls in different times and days of the year, there creates an ever-changing painting.

▲室内光线变化Light changes in the interior

▲天井一天的光线变化Light changes in the patio


The western wall of the building leaves a small window facing the elegant curve of the slanted roof of the neighboring building that creates the relationship in between as well as resonates with the oblique angle of the stairs. The small window also opens a tunnel for the sunset shines in, which brings a sense of ritual into dusk, at the end of a day.

▲西窗与夕阳West window and sunset

▲夕阳投进办公区Sunset in the office


The roof deck furthers the conversation between the building and the jujube tree. The de-sign of the cushion and low tea table are intended to lower the body wrapped around by the jujube tree, that renders a space under the tree for meditation. On the west side, wood-en planters are placed as railings to ensure privacy. At the dusk, people sit facing west, through the silhouette of the flowers in the planter, and enjoy the sunset.

▲露台茶席The Tea Table on the deck

▲楼梯间回看枣树Looking from the stairs to the jujube tree



In the architecture space with three different floor heights, the architect discusses three dif-ferent postures of human body and modules between furniture and architecture. On the first floor, the counter of 1100mm corresponding to “standing”. On the second floor, the 750mm-desk replies to the need for the daily “sitting” position. On the roof deck, the 100mm tea table suggests a ceremonial posture, “kneeing”. With these attempts in minimal living and working space, the architect hopes to recall the attention to human body and construct the place for it. It is the “nature” that we believe in.

▲家具分析图 Analytical drawing of the furniture

▲剖轴测图 Axonometric Section

▲一层平面图 First Floor Plan

▲二层平面图 Second Floor Plan

▲屋顶平面图 Roof Deck Plan













Project information——

Project name: Tree Courtyard

Designed: Atelier Jian

Website: www.a-jian.com

Design year: April 2018-August 2018

Completion Year:August 2018

Leader designer: Chen Peixin

Team: Chen Peixin Chang Zhe

Project location: Beijing, China

Gross Built Area :41.8㎡

Photo credits: Chen Peixin

Client: Atelier Jian,XYZ Studio