In Beibei, Chongqing, there is a children's song that has been circulating for more than half a century - In Beibei, there are Beancurd flower and Tutuo Liquor, and the most interesting place is Chengjiangkou. The "Tutuo" in this song refers to the Shuitu Town, which was set up in the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty and later called Shuitu Tuo.Shuitu Town was once an important industrial and commercial town.
The poem "thousands of people bow their heads during the day and thousands of bright lights at night" describes the prosperity of Shuitu Town. However, compared with a few years ago, the old town of Shuitu has been gradually pressed by the surrounding new areas that have developed year by year, leaving only the last territory near the Jialing River, which is still hard to defend.
With decades of self construction and reconstruction, the old street is no longer a traditional street town with a unified style and features with green tile roofs stacked in the mountains. However, compared with many old towns and streets that have been over developed or built through a series of "styles", there are courtyards left from the third line construction period, village gates in the Qing Dynasty, the former site of Jiangji Factory at the top of the mountain, barber shops with slogans, the former site of the Kuomintang Central Guard Office on the riverside, the dilapidated but still standing Jiangbei County People's Auditorium and the People's Government Office Building... simple and true, with docks, lanes, stone steps, and moss, all kinds of simplicity come to us as if there had never been disturbed here.
The first time I visited at Shuitu Old Street was in October 2014, with the purpose of visiting the last navigable ferry in the main city of Chongqing, the Santu Ferry, a waterway connecting Sansheng Village of Shijialiang in Beibei and Shuitu Old Street, which was built in 1961 to carry cars across the Jialing River.
With the construction of more and more bridges across the river in the main city, the ferry carrying the memories of countless old Chongqing people's childhood, which transports people and vehicles across the river, gradually withdrew from the historical stage along the two rivers and four banks of Chongqing. The Santu Ferry along the Shuitu River has been retained as a war readiness wharf, and since 2012, it has started a public welfare free ferry.
At the end of 2019, the "Lingjiang Yidu Sansheng Ferry Service Station" designed by our team was formally completed and put into use on the river bank on the side of Shijialiang, Santu Ferry. In this three storey steel structure building with an area of only 450 ㎡, it provides a place for citizens and tourists to display culture and relax, and at the same time, it solves the problem of accommodation and food for some crew members, so as to experience the ferry. The vision is to continue the original culture of old Chongqing, so as to drive the revival and development of both sides of the river.
The citizens are very interested in the experience of the ferry, but the process of the river crossing is only a few minutes, which can not fully meet the needs as a destination for experience and tourism consumption. On the side of Shuitu Old Street, in addition to those lanes and old shops full of nostalgic atmosphere that can attract photography enthusiasts, for young people or ordinary citizens after 90 or 00, there is still a lack of public service space that can be seen, photographed, played, and stayed for consumption. Whether city or village, activation or renewal, inheritance or development should be a dynamic growth process rather than a static ultimate goal. Here, thinking, research and practice is continuing.
Hand Climbing Rock is a site located on the riverside cliff of Shuitu Old Street. As the name implies, the terrain here is steep, and the traffic is extremely inconvenient. Not only is there no driveway, but even the slope of the mountain road can not be reached by carts, so we can only go there on foot. In fact, in the later construction of this small coffee shop, all building materials, whether steel structures or stones or glass, had to be carried by shoulders, or even pulled mules.
Up from the riverside road, there is a small temple that is almost invisible. The stone tablet on the right side of the temple is engraved with the water level line of the Jialing River flood in 1981. Then, less than 50 meters away from the construction site, there is a natural cave. Three characters are engraved on the rocks above. That is, after hundreds of years of wind and rain, the font is still recognizable - "Qiliusuo", which refers to the special organization that took refugees in the Qing Dynasty.
For the activation and renewal of Shuitu Old Street, the local street principal has successively selected three sites to discuss the reconstruction prospects and strategies with the designer. In addition to the abandoned and collapsed house site of Hand Climbing Rock, there are Hejia Courtyard not far away and the old cinema located in the east of the old street.
A successful transformation project is not only the transformation and renewal of the physical space, but also the prior industrial planning and reasonable functional positioning should be sorted out clearly and set in place before the renovation, so that the renovated space can be put to good use and avoid vacancy and waste. For example, the Hejia Courtyard with a total area of more than 1000 ㎡, although everyone agreed that it could be used as a place to display the heritage culture or a public courtyard for home stay and leisure after transformation, it should not be transformed for the purpose of transformation without specific content, implementation of the operation team, and specific space requirements.
The team has studied and judged many times, and decided to select the smallest site less than 200 ㎡ among the three alternatives for the pilot project. The transformation goal is to provide a teahouse and coffee shop that can be used for investment leasing and public space.
The coffee shop is located on a cliff terrace on the Hand Climbing Rock, surrounded by low and old houses of all ages, facing the river in the west, with a wide view, and facing the Ferry Service Station across the river. In front of the platform, there is a mountain trail winding up the mountain, which is narrow and can only be walked, connecting the deep lanes of the old street.
Looking over the terrace, flowers and trees grow wild, green tile roofs are arranged in rows. It has a typical pattern of old mountain streets, retaining the purest appearance of old Chongqing, and the old streets carrying the memory of generations of people in this mountain city are witnessing the changes of the mountain city at the edge of the city in the form of "living fossils".
At the beginning of design, "explicit" or "implicit" were two different ways of thinking. In the end, it became the consensus of the team that do not want to jump out of the environment with distinctive colors or shapes and blindly emphasize their so-called "sense of design" to reveal themselves.
Design, take root downward, hide into the site, and blend into the old street. Here, as the carrier of historical context, we should respect and revere the old street as we face time and history. Everything about the coffee shop should be simple, so that the building grows naturally out of the site, allowing it to intervene in an extremely humble manner, trying to fit the site to the maximum.
The cramped site and the adjacent multi-storey old buildings together give the coffee shop low volume, so the function of the coffee shop is limited to a single floor volume with an area of only 120 ㎡. Making use of the limited volume to make as many feelings as possible has become the difficulty of this design.
The function of the building is reasonably divided into two spaces, one large and one small, supplemented by service space. The large space is used to accommodate the coffee shop that can be freely arranged, including the console, auxiliary space, passenger area, etc., while the small space is put into a small meeting room of 20 ㎡.
In dealing with the relationship between outdoor and indoor, we try our best to seek the freedom of sight - the low building volume restricts people's sight, making the scene outside the french window jump out at once. The eaves extend outward, forming a space under the eaves about 2m wide outside the french window, pushing the view inside the window to the distance. French windows and the space under the eaves overlap each other, expanding the view of the river.
In terms of morphological treatment, the architecture and indoor atmosphere show an absolute consistency - simplicity but not simple. The outline of the building is occluded by two single slope roof blocks, one large and one small. The sloping direction of the sloping roof gives way to the only mountain trail in front of the site. In the case of extremely limited area, the coffee shop still cuts corner at the entrance, yielding to an entrance square, which greatly dispels the cramped experience of people after walking on the steps.
The building facade also achieves consistency with the whole through comparison: the openness of the space under the eaves and the closure of the indoor space, the transparency of the french glass windows and the solidity of the stone house interspersed in them... All kinds of empty and stocky comparisons make the building complete a variety of changes in a very small scale. Finally, all changes are unified in the refined modeling of "one horizontal (horizon), one vertical (vertical interface of the building) and one inclined (single slope roof)".
The construction materials of the coffee shop are all local materials, using natural raw stones, old wooden boards and steel for construction. The delicacy of old wood, the coarseness of natural stone, the hardness of steel, and the collision between several materials with different personalities have achieved amazing consistency with the old street in color, creating a unique original texture, arousing emotional resonance in vision and touch, so that the building is rooted in the old street, built for the old street, and coexists with the old street.
Construction is the key to the success of the design. From material selection to construction, the design team checks. Construction can continue only after the approval of the design team. The stone wall is built with local raw stones one by one. The junction between stone and stone is required to be coated with cement mortar without exposing mortar, which puts forward certain requirements for workers' construction technology. The selection of raw stones and old wooden boards is also very careful. The size of raw stones should not be too large or too small, and the size should be uniform; The color and pattern of the old wooden boards should also be coordinated and unified to reflect the warmth and texture of the old wood.
Vision, grow upward, drive the old street, activate and update. The coffee shop is another pilot project of our team in the renewal of Shuitu Old Street. We hope that it can continue to serve as a touch media to promote the sustainable and gradual growth and development of the old street by leading the line with points, leading the area with lines, and expanding the volume with areas.
At the end of September, we went to the coffee shop for architectural photography. You can go up the river bank of Shuitu Old Street, go through Wangjianglou rice noodles, go through the dark and shadowy old streets and deep lanes, and then go through the Hejia courtyard, which is full of triangular plum blossoms. At that time, the coffee shop had been open for more than two months, and there was still an endless stream of tourists who came for leisure, either through internet or recommended by friends. No matter how they came, they all chose to leave their time in this small coffee shop, solidified in the atmosphere of the old street.
The most surprising thing is that this coffee shop is slowly merging into the lives of residents in the old street. Local people account for half of the people coming for consumption, and even the employees are mostly local people.Aunties like to come here to have a rest, and children like to play here. This coffee shop in the old street is like a tree at the entrance of the village, becoming a daily public space in the old street.
Stereotype makes us think that the target population of coffee shops should be young people in cities, but in fact it is not. No matter children or aunties, they are willing to join in the leisurely and comfortable life atmosphere to feel the spiritual pleasure brought by this small house. Everyone will be happy with the good things, and this kind of approachable spiritual pleasure is also the most touching part of this small house. We hope that this joy and emotion can be internalized into every family in Shuitu Old Street through this small house, and can also continuously absorb more vitality for this land.
We believe that there will be more "coffee shops" in Shuitu Old Street after this coffee shop.