Dashilar Teahouse Renovation
Restauration of an old Teahouse in the historical district of Dashilar, Beijing
The renewal project for the TeaHouse in ZhuJia Hutong no.9 was menat as a pilot project for the whole area. Therefore the designers were asked to develop a clear methodological approach which could be re-proposed and further applied to other cases.
The general aim was to list a sequence of investigations to be undertaken and a sort of brief preliminary primer listing both types of operations and criteria of actions to be taken to the various problems which may affect different parts of the building. In the end an “Handbook of Zhujia Hutong no.9 Renewal Project was produced, collecting different sets of drawings (analysis of the existing conditions; drawings of the new renovation project), photographic survey and detailed technical files to enlighten structural issues and thus reporting and documenting the progress of renovation’s process throughout the different phases.
The overall design approach aimed to reinforce and adapt the old structure of the house to a contemporary use, without compromising its historic character. The intervention was not meant to recreate the past, but rather save what we have inherited, enjoying it safely and in the aim of conveying the flavor of traditional constructions into new forms of living. From the perspective of the architectural language, the old parts of the house have been restored according to the original layout, while the new interventions are recognizable by the use of new materials or colors. Careful attention has been dedicated to the use of new materials, which will be limited only where strictly necessary, in order to fully respond to the principle of reversibility. More specifically, the new interventions were only applied to guarantee the required safety and contemporary usability, while a more conservative approach was used for any other aesthetic matter or aspect related to the feeling of the space. An example for safety: reinforcement of the staircase handrail was needed; an example for usability: new glass windows, water drainage, new toilette.
The renovation process was intended as a restoration of decoration, materials and finishing, with a special attention to both aesthetic and environmental qualities of the living conditions for the future users. The many layers of time added a romantic and specific charm to the Tea-House, enriching its history with traces of different users and tenants. This very special feeling is the one we were preserving after the regenerative intervention.