Ramble is album with several sub albums. Here is one: Office in Hutong.
Beijing, as the capital of China, has a long history, and currently is going through fast economical development.
Hutong, as the traditional urban typology of Beijing city, is slowly disappearing.
We try to find the offices in those Hutong, discover their ideas and life.
People’s Architecture Office/ People’s Industrial Design Office–Qihelou South Alley,Yard No.8,Dong Cheng District,Beijing
Located in the center of Beijing next to the Forbidden City, People’s Architecture Office/People’s Industrial Design Office occupies the northeast corner of a traditional courtyard house. This corner includes 2 main office spaces and a kitchenette which enclose a narrow courtyard.
The renovation of our office involved exposing the house’s original wood beam structure. We were not permitted to make structural changes to the courtyard house and were limited by small spaces. Our overall approach and furniture design reflect these constraints.
We believe Architecture is for the Masses. It must be conceptually accessible and culturally pragmatic. However, this does not preclude it from innovation, quality, and authenticity.
In fact, it is the Masses that inspire our work.
We view design from the framework of realities of scale, global economics, global flows, mass production, mass markets, social networks. At the same time, we embed ourselves in the reality of the everyday. Our office is located in the hutongs in the heart of Beijing, functions as a laboratory to observe, test, and research.
众产品（People’s Industrial Design Office）由中国建筑师何哲、臧峰与美国建筑师兼产品设计师沈海恩于2010年在北京成立。产品与建筑的双重设计经验和教育背景直接决定了我们的设计方向与方法: 在空间中思考并设计产品,而非独立看待产品本身。
People‘s Industrial Design Office was founded by American product designer and architect James Shen and Chinese architects He Zhe and Zang Feng in Beijing China. Our design approach is defined by our education and experience working in architecture and product design. We are therefore adept at different scales and viewing our products not only as objects but as objects in space.
Our cross cultural backgrounds and vibrant setting in the center of Beijing are sources of unlimited inspiration. Our desire to innovate is a reaction to this environment.
We strive for simplicity and conceptual clarity.
Pushing beyond form-making we experiment with materials, movement, visual effects, and both primitive and hi-tech technologies. With this holistic approach, we re-define the ways users engage with products.
What was the reason to choose a typical courtyard in hutongs as your office?
We set our office in hutong at the most central part of Beijing and place ourselves in daily environment to observe life, draw inspiration, harvest enlightenment and design with the companion of reality. By this, we delicate our design to the final users, which are the common people rather than anyone else.
In many ways our surroundings are picturesque: Everyday the surrounding hutongs are busy with people passing by, soldiers marching, government officials returning to their fancy courtyards, lost foreign tourists, or tricycle vendors crying “goat tripe” while they ride, and of course the elderly hanging out and chatting. In actuality the hutongs are not so romantic. The smell of sewage is always present, cars often clog up the narrow hutongs, and every once in a while people fight in the streets. In the studio one might be quietly sketching while the person next to him is arguing on the phone on top of the sound of someone spitting outside. And all this with hip hop in the background. You might say this is a montage-like environment. I remember one time when we were in the middle of a meeting, a vendor was melodically crying out “purchasing old phones and long hair…purchasing old phones and long hair” floated into our office and then gradually faded away. We were all really curious about it, some even ran out to see. An everyday occurrence for some was something very new to us.
Do you think you are influenced by such working environment?
Here are some examples of how the Hutongs have influenced us:
Modified tricycles (tricycle pickups,tricycle pedicabs,tricycle shops) surround us. Their creative uses inspired our idea for the Tricycle House.
Our experience with our Courtyard House office space led to a deep understanding of numerous problems in such old structures. These include issues such as property disputes, vacancy, poor insulation, the lack of sewage infrastructure, insufficient heating in the winter, and aging wood structure. Our Courtyard House Plugin attempts to solve these problems without changing the original building.
In considering the idea of upgrading old stools used by the food carts and local restaurants around us we came up with the “stool chair,” a design that incorporates armrests and backrests into old stools.
The problems of traditional wood bench used by carpenters and the elderly in the hutongs led us to re-design a new bench suitable for mass production.
Traveling in the congested hutongs and making use of public transportation has informed our approach to designing a folding electric scooter.
Our experience in the Hutongs have helped us understand the surrounding social conditions and their problems. Our interest is to engage in these issues in a way that is realistic, direct, and contemporary rather than one that is abstract and based on reminiscing on a romantic past.
“tricycle motor home” caters to the modern life, yet presents a dignified artistic attitude. Another of your works “circle bubble” is also designed close to people’s daily life. So what’s your attitudes on installation art, architectural design and industrial design and are there great differences to you? What interesting sparks are brought by their collision?
Our interest is not in producing installation art. However we do have some more conceptual projects that address certain issues related to the masses. We approach these projects in an exaggerated manner so that we can achieve clarity and to generate discussion. The feedback that follows informs our development of these projects.
We think of Product Design and Architecture both as means to engage in social issues we’re interested in. Although our two offices are separate entities with dedicated designers, they certainly influence eachother in an intimate way. We approach our product design with considerations of space while we look at architecture from the macro scale to the micro scale of connection details.
The two areas do have their differences. For example buildings are usually custom built one-off designs while products are mass produced in high quantities. Over the years we’ve found that we have more and more projects that straddle both areas as buildings become more like products and products come closer to the scale of buildings. For example our Tricycle House is literally architecture on a product. It’s a space for living but it’s not a building; it’s a vehicle but unusually large for a tricycle.
One of the core issues that inspired the Tricycle House is the inability to own land in China. This together with mobility, foldable and transforming structures led to our Pop-Up Habitat and our Plug-in Courtyard House Plugin. These are all projects that explore an area between Architecture and Product Design.
What’s the biggest challenge you came upon in industrial design?
In terms of design, when it comes to material, form, manufacturing, and functionality these are all issues we are able to resolve ourselves. However in China the product development industry is still in its early stages. Designers here don’t only have to be concerned about design but also with branding issues such as product planning, market research, marketing, quality control, shipping, etc. Designers take on a different form here.
Finding partners for product development is also difficult. There is a general fear of risk. Few businesses understand that innovation necessarily involves risk and investment. People are too used to taking ideas from others and following someone else’s lead. Also, much of the manufacturing industry is based on quantity and low cost so it is difficult for factories to justify investing in product development. They tend to be short sighted as any pause in their production line translates into lost revenue. Given this, we’ve still been able to find some partners willing to share our vision that have allowed us to continue our quest to innovate.
I found that the “concave-convex desk” is very delicate in details which will also lead to higher prices. So will you simplify the desk to just keep the conceptual archetypes at the sacrifice of partial quality in order to gain better sales volume? And why?
We are constantly improving our products including our Tetris Table. The shape of the design is essentially an enlarged mortise and tenon joint. The shape allow for a strong connection between the tables without any additional connections. Therefore the form is completely tied to its function; it is also what makes it difficult to produce. But cost is not solely dependent on ease of production or even design. Quantity and distribution can drastically lower costs and at the moment we do not have a good platform for this.
凹凸桌由一套五张相互咬合的桌子组成，可分为五张独立的办公桌，也可组合为一张长条的会议桌。连接的关键在于桌腿与桌面的关系，以及桌面倒斜角边的设计， 这使得不同的桌子能相互卡住，并通过适当的摩擦力连接在一起，组合后抬起任何一端都不会散架。 桌面平面形状的不同凹进与凸起，让使用者能够具有创造性地使用每一张桌子。此外，桌腿的滑轮使得整个拼拆过程极为轻松。
Materials: Wood, Steel
The Tetris Table consists of five interlocking tables that can be separated into individual desks or combined into one long conference table. Perpendicular notches and protrusions invite users to occupy individual tables in creative ways. Table legs and chamfered table surfaces are designed to lock together with a friction fit connection, allowing the assembled Tetris Table to be lifted on either end without splitting apart. Additionally, lockable castors allow for maximum flexibility.
这段时间邀请了詹远开题我们该聊聊住宅了。因为你们正在做一个不错的大型住宅区设计项目，所以网站有邀请你们作为回答嘉宾，在沟通过程中意外的发现你们最近还有一个项目—内盒院Courtyard House Plugin，是插入胡同老房子的小房子。看了一下资料，内盒院算是小型而独立的建筑，自带防水保温系统。你们甚至还做了产品手册。这种预制化，产品化和灵活化的建筑，你们做过市场调研吗？结果是什么？有多少潜在市场？每一个的零售价是多少？使用年限多久？一般的老板姓能否自行安装吗？如果请专业的人安装，安装费会占到总售价的多少？你们对这个项目最终的期盼是什么？
Recently, Yuan Zhan proposed a topic for “gooood Idea”—It’s time to take about residence. We’re very glad to have you in the discussions since you’re working on a very good large-scale residential project. I unexpectedly found from our communications that you’re carrying out another project “Courtyard House Plugin”, which is a small box inserted in Hutong. The material shows that the courtyard house is a small and independent space with waterproof and thermal insulation system. You even prepared a manual for it. Have you ever done market research on such prefabricated, commercialized and flexible buildings? What’s the result? How about the potential market? What’s the unit price and servicelife? Can they be installed by customers themselves? What’s the proportion of installation charge occupy in the product price? What’s your final expectation from this project?
Our Courtyard House Plug-in is not a commercially driven project but a socially driven one. This project is a part of the Beijing Dashilar Pilot project which has the aim of rejuvenating the historic neighborhood. The problem given to us was how do you make use of old partially vacant courtyard houses? This is a common situation in all of Beijing’s historic areas. No one wants to occupy these old buildings because of the poor conditions. And no one wants to renovate them because of the expense. Anyone willing to spend the money wouldn’t want to share the courtyardwith people already living there. Our approach is to not renovate, nor to tear down, but to plug in!
The Courtyard House Plugin consists of pre-fabricated modular units are inserted into the existing courtyard house structure while leaving the original conditions intact. We developed a special panel system that is mass produced and can be easily packed and shipped to any location. The panels are structure, insulation, interior and exterior finish all-in-one. A special connection detail incorporated into the panels allows just two people, inexperienced in construction, to assemble a structure with just a allen wrench. The result is a living space that exceeds today’s standards for energy efficiency. Infrastructural elements such as plumbing, floor heating, insulation, and wiring are integrated into the Plugin Units. The courtyards can therefore be upgraded to modern living conditions with minimum impact. Existing residents are not affect by the process, the old structures are left alone, and the modules are only plugged into vacant spaces. Inserting the plug-in is a soft approach to upgrading old buildings. We also see this project as an alternative to the artificial historicism rampant in China. Instead of clearing out the old and replacing them with newly built structures ours is a montage approach where the new and the old genuinely co-exist.
Peoples Architect has been founded for four years, is there anything that impresses you most in these years?
We believe in getting hands-on with our work. That means we are in factories and on site involved in construction often working side by side with laborers. One thing we’ve found that has stuck in our minds is that each time we take on the role of a laborer we’re treated as if we’re of a different class and sometimes spoken to in impolite ways. Architecture is an interdisciplinary field. Our knowledge spans history, culture, art and science. Our perspective must be worldly and broad to engage urban and social issues in the context of a global economy. And our skills must include CAD, CAM, sketching, carpentry, machining, welding, mold design, etc. Creative solutions involve an intersection of all these aspects. This is the basis for innovation.
However the education system and social structure of Chinese society looks at labor with prejudice. In our eyes this prevents designers from engaging in one of the most important aspects of design. It is often within the process of making that we come up with our most creative ideas. And sometimes the creative step is in how something is made that in-turn naturally affects how it looks. But the idea that labor is not for the educated and cultured is deeply rooted in Chinese society. Innovation and progress is essential to improving our social condition and understanding materials and methods of production is a necessary part.
You’re a three-partner company. As far as I know, you make almost all the decisions and performances only if you three reach agreement. This is very rarely seen in other Architects. Generally speaking, everyone has his own ideas and preferences or one is relatively stronger than others. How can you reach such high unity?
Universal agreement is not very common. Different points of views and drawing from our unique experience and background makes our discussions more meaningful. We’re always arguing, whether it’s between partners or with our designers. But the one thing we have in common is our purpose which is embodied in our name. And as long as our fights are for the sake of the same goal, the more we argue the more we’re able to ensure the final result is one that has taken multiple points of views into consideration. Our designs need to hold up to the criticism of society and our office is a microcosm of that. Anyone’s opinion in the office is welcome. The more we test out our ideas internally, the more likely our designs will be successful.
-2013 中国室内设计CIDA 2013年度两项大奖
-2014 国际地产奖International Property Awards两项大奖，三千渡项目
-2014 美国纽约Architizer的A+Awards 2014年度评审奖，三轮房车与移动花园
-2014 美国纽约Architizer的A+Awards 2014年度评审奖，圈泡屋pop-up habitat
-2013CIDA产品设计奖 -2013红棉奖 -2012红棉奖
其它项目 Other Project
三千渡社区 River Heights Residences
“三千渡”项目位于太原市北部，紧邻汾河。为了在这样一个尚未完全开发的区域内迅速培育出都市建筑形态与相应的生活方式，我们有意缩小建筑的尺度，制造了整体性的视错觉: 将每个住宅单元塔楼拆分为三个”迷你塔楼”，三个”迷你塔楼”都拥有独立的住宅外形, 但共用一个核心筒，彼此间高低、前后错落, 带来更好的通风、采光与视野，并形成大量高低不一的屋顶花园，形成轮廓分明的都市天际线。不同楼体间外立面的视觉连续进一步增强了这种尺度的错觉。
River Heights Residential Towers
Building area of 500,000sqm
The context of the Riverside Heights Residential Towers is an undeveloped suburban location on the outskirts of Taiyuan. To promote urban livingin a tabula rasa environment we manipulated the scales of the towers to appear larger than they are; the result is a ‘metropolitan’ suburban development with an articulated skyline. To achieve this effect, the towers were subdivided into three mini-towers, each with the footprint of an individual housing unit. Three mini-towers share one core, vary in height and are capped by roof gardens. The consistency of the facades further enhances the illusion of scale.
The articulated skyline and groupings of the buildings suggest a collective form. Through repetition and highly controlled façades, the buildings act as a background, highlighting the surrounding landscaped areas of open green spaces and sunken plazas.
“廿一客”办公总部 21 Cake Headquarters
建筑面积： 457 m2
The design for the headquarters of 21 Cake, a popular gourmet cake franchise, relies on the interaction of the three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Selected walls of the office, namely those along circulation areas, are made of laminated colored glass. These glass panels of primary colors are ‘layered’ to create a full spectrum of changing colors. As one walks through the spaces of the office, changing vantage points in combination with natural and artificial light and reflections produce dramatic effects. A double height central atrium topped with a skylight brings in light through the layers of color along the staircase and glass bridge on the second floor.
Conference tables and mobile work tables are designed and produced by our sister company People’s Industrial Design Office.
Client: 21 Cake
Location: Legend Town Creative Industry Park, Ciyunsi Bridge, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Building Area: 457 sqm
Principals: He Zhe, James Shen, Zang Feng
Team: Liu Xiujuan, Liang Shaoyi, Chen Yixuan, Emily Kwak, Cui Yujing
↑ 左：入口 右：从室外看彩色玻璃 Left: entrace Right: stained glass seen from outside
↑ 一层前厅 lobby on the 1st floor
↑ 天井 atrium
↑ 二层彩色玻璃 stained glass on the 2nd floor
↑ 二层中央走道 central aisle on the 2nd floor
↑ 楼梯间 stairwell
↑ 一层办公区 office area on the 1st floor
三轮移动房屋 The Tricycle House
三轮移动房屋是为2012年大声展而做的， 目的是为了讨论在中国土地不私有制度的前提下, 能否拥有一种土地与住宅及自然景观相对松弛的关系：家庭住宅也可以是灵活的、可变的，停车场也可为人（而非车）所利用。生活不必完全围绕“车、房”而展开。三轮移动房屋由PP（聚丙烯）板制成：利用CNC对板材剔槽切割，而后折叠焊接形成空间。PP板的特点是折叠不会减弱强度，却能够拉伸延长或缩短。房屋因此能够完全打开或根据使用情况改变长度，并与其他移动房屋或移动绿地连接。PP板同时有着透光的特性，白天室内光线均匀，夜晚甚至可借用周围城市的灯光照明。
The Tricycle House addresses the theme “The People’s Future” for the 2012 Get It Louder Exhibition in Beijing. Private ownership of land in China does not exist, and The Tricycle House suggests a future embrace of the temporary relationship between people and the land they occupy. In a crowded Chinese city single family homes can be affordable and sustainable, parking lots are used at night, and traffic jams are acceptable. As a construction method we experimented with folded plastic. Each piece of the house is cut with a CNC router, scored, folded and welded into shape. The plastic, polypropylene, can be folded without losing its strength. Therefore the house can open up to the outside, expand like an accordion for more space, and connect to other houses. The plastic is translucent allowing the interior to be lit by the sun during the day or street lamps at night.
The Tricycle House is man-powered and operates off-the-grid. Facilities in the house include a sink and stove, a bathtub, a water tank, and furniture that can transform from a bed to a dining table and bench to a bench and counter top. The sink, stove, and bathtub can collapse into the front wall of the house.
↑ 在城市中移动 moving in the city
↑ 左：移动房屋 沐浴 中：睡眠 右上：用餐 右下：夜景 Left: tricycle house bathing Middle: sleeping Upper right: dining Lower right: night
↑ 分解示意图 Exploded View
↑ 功能分析图 Multiple Uses
↑ 移动房屋组合方式 Combining Tricycle houses
圈泡屋 Pop-Up Habitat
The Pop-Up Habitat is a lightweight, multi-purpose habitable building block. The instantly deployable structure is playful and visually appealing. And it is so easy to assemble that even children can play. Architect creating an infinitely expandable multistory temporary city.
在gooood上已发布的项目 Projects Published before