Beijing Hutong Gets a Contemporary Makeover by Chaoffice

In large cities people are always looking for a more affordable alternative to getting on the property ladder. In Beijing, people have been buying old hutongs and updating them to meet the needs of modern life.


This project comes from the Chinese firm Chaoffice with Zhi Cheng at the helm. They’ve managed to create a contemporary home for the client, all within a tiny footprint.



The house is located in Ciqikou, Beijing. The area is described by the designers as chaotic and slum-like. The condition of the street is typical of hutong developments. This particular unit is composed of a 301.39-square-foot (28-square-meter) building found in the midst of a maze of other buildings.



The image of the hutong is slowly but surely changing. Renovation projects give the area a new lease of life. They frequently improve sanitation of the nearby buildings and provide better access to utilities. This project was completed in 2017, and from the inside you would have no idea as to its location.


The home is composed of a single room, spread over a single level. Thick timbers that support the roof have been left on show, providing a sense of history and character against an otherwise contemporary finish. Being set in an extremely dense urban environment, window opportunities are limited, but some have been introduced at eaves level.


The living areas themselves a loosely divided up between varying ceiling heights, internal glass doors and curtains. The central portion of the hutong is occupied by the living area. Feeding off of this you’ll find a bathroom and a bedroom to the right-hand-side. On the left, there’s a kitchen and a study.


From the architect: “Most storage spaces are hidden under the table or bed. Thus, the place between two rooms could be a totally empty space for uncertain functions. Like a party room, family room, or play room… It is my hope that this plan may be a way to stimulate further changes in the environment and urban fabric.”


For more small houses check out “The Renovation of Ngamwong”, which sees a living space transformed. Or, this conversion of a Victorian Cottage by Apparte Studio. See all small houses.

Photos © Zhi Cheng, Wen Hou


Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

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