When the New meets the Old

Sunday 26 Feb 2012

YNL Design's research on preserving Beijing's cultural identity

YNL Design is an energetic group, passionate about the research of cultural sustainability and the preservation of a city’s historic assets. The practice engages projects in an experimental and pragmatic way. Investigating the possibility of preserving historic structure physically and ideologically, the projects featured here are experimentations of how ancient architectural ideas could interweave with the contemporary architecture.

The first project featured here is a research of Beijing’s historic background in the past decades. It highlights the social significance of the city’s ancient architecture as well as their functional values before the era of New China. The article also illustrated the factors that triggered the mass destruction of these structures in the past decades.

The second project is an effort to preserve and transform Beijing Courtyard houses (Siheyuan) to adapt different functions. The project examines the feasibility of utilising Siheyuan as a public restaurant and how they can be preserved at a neighbourhood scale and contribute to local economy and tourism.

The third project suggests a possibility of reusing ideas from Siheyuan and reiterating them into the design process of modern architecture. The contemporary private residence project employs design strategies extracted from Beijing Courtyard House such as the programmatic arrangement and spatial hierarchy structure of Siheyuan.

The last project focuses on the public awareness of historic architectural preservation. It is an ideological intervention through the use of overwhelmingly scaled architecture. The shape of the long and narrow building is a reference of the demolished ancient city wall. It redefines the project site by sharply contrasting with the surrounding environment, an allegory of modern China and its destructive treatment of Beijing's historic buildings in the past century. The project goal is to reinforce the importance of historic preservation by facilitating a cultural discussion.

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