The project is located next to Chengde Park and Bijiang Elementary School in the ancient village of Bijiang, Beijiao Town, Shunde. The project site is an abandoned pawnshop storage building from the late Qing Dynasty, which has been unused for nearly 20 years.
We initiated the Common Space with young friends from different industries, and after receiving support from the fund, we rented the pawnshop in the hope that it would become a space that is open and able to host different community activities in the future.
▲ 建筑改造过程记录 ©泥木建筑
The open nature of the team clashes with the defensive attributes of the pawnshop storage building in terms of its architectural design. Features such as a 5-meter high, half-meter thick red sandstone wall, narrow and tall doorways, and more than a meter of elevation difference between the interior and the park create an experience that feels like entering a fortress or a hidden chamber, making it difficult for people to approach due to a sense of resistance.
In front of Chengde Park, there is a vibrant old residential area, home to local residents of several decades and newcomers who have come for work.
In the morning, around 7 or 8 o'clock, elderly residents go out to buy groceries, grandchildren take strolls, and there are even people riding motorcycles to take their children to school. Around 9 o'clock, with the morning sun, the park starts to get lively. Several elderly individuals gather in the pavilion, chatting about current national affairs and playing old Cantonese songs. At noon, everyone returns to their nearby homes for lunch, while more people begin to come to the park for a full salad. In the afternoon, around 2 o'clock, the ladies start their work, playing cards and passing the time in the park's pavilion. By 3 or 4 o'clock, many people seek shade under the trees, some passing by the park for a rest and a drink of water, while others watch over their children playing in the park. At 4:30, Chengde Road becomes busy with motorcycles, bicycles, tricycles, and cars. Parents wait by the park or on the roadside, and most of the elementary school students, after school, rush to Chengde Park. They run around with their friends under the trees and pavilions before calming down. This is the busiest time of the day in the park. Gradually, the road clears up, and the park becomes quiet. As night falls, around 7 o'clock, nearby residents take evening strolls around the park, chatting under the streetlights. A few neighbor kids come out to play on their own until their parents call them back home a bit later.
There is no square dancing here, but there are many more intimate conversations. Different groups of people are happy to spend time in this park, and the low pavilions and scattered trees create a pleasant environment, making it the most popular gathering place. This has inspired us.
For the outdoor area, we employed a simple approach to reshape the pawnshop's courtyard and the alley in front. We used leftover materials from the clearance process to create segmented steps connecting the park with the interior and exterior of the pawnshop. We also incorporated a newly made mirrored doorway, which reflected the surroundings, diminishing the perception of a deep doorway. Simultaneously, we preserved the wild vegetation at the entrance and the trees in the courtyard, extending the park's greenery and ensuring a continuous line of sight. Through the rhythm of walking, the continuity of sightlines, and the unfolding scenery, we mitigated the inherent differences in elevation and the sense of obstruction.
In the indoor space, we have introduced an inverted triangular roof structure with exhaust capabilities to bring visual flow to the originally enclosed and cramped space. The four-sided sunroof curtain wall also provides ample light to the otherwise dark interior, giving people the opportunity to perceive the changing sky throughout the day. As people ascend the park's stairs, enter the interior through the courtyard, and casually look along the wall towards the ceiling, they meet the sunlight of sunrise and sunset, once again leading their thoughts to distant places. At night, the gentle glow seeping through the semi-transparent curtain wall provides a warm guide for the park and passersby.
Due to the demolition of a considerable amount of building materials (bricks, tiles, stones and wood), at the beginning of the design, we developed a material recycling strategy for this purpose, and combined with the craftsmanship level of the masters in the village, we ended up using a large amount of materials from the building itself and the nearby resources to complete most of the construction, while at the same time reducing a lot of the handling costs:
1. Ways to recycle demolition materials:
2. Except for the steel structure, all other craftsmen were local villagers living nearby.
3. 80% of the hardware materials were purchased within a one-kilometer radius.