Chinese studio Dot Architects has conceived the Baitasi House of the Future, a futuristic home that suits the future lifestyles of young people in a historic Beijing’s hutong area. Baitasi is one of the well-preserved hutong neighborhoods. The original site had a 30 sqm house and a 80 sqm yard cramped with illegal building works.
Dot Architects developed the Baitasi House of the Future for tech company Whaley, which focuses on smart homes and asked the studio to develop a building suited to the changing lifestyles of future customers. When we talk about house we are talking about home. The house of the future should represent such a lifestyle of young people. They can fluidly shift between work and home. Access and convenience are more important to them than ownership. The possibilities of home space outweigh its physical dimension. The boundary between home and society is blurred by the rise of the sharing economy, nomad workers and technology. Our lives are fragmented and can not be accommodated by a fixed layout.
The original house is wood framed. To minimise construction work and reveal the beauty of traditional Chinese wooden structure, the design team replaced the decayed roof and removed all the interior partitions. Two moveable furniture modules and one fixed module are placed under the new roof. With the movable modules, the house can have four different layout options. According to the needs of the residents, it can shift from a three bedrooms house to a small office. The facade can be open up to connect the living space and the outdoors.
The movable modules are controlled by a smart TV. This TV system also controls lighting modes, curtains, security alarm and other home appliances.
The house’s location in a historic and busy neighbourhood necessitated the use of clean and lightweight construction methods that minimised disruption during building work. For this reason, the architects utilised the open-source WikiHouse system to erect an extension that is positioned perpendicular to the existing house and contains a kitchen and toilet.
Wikihouse provides online templates that can be downloaded and used to create buildings made from wooden components that slot together and can be cut on any computer-controlled milling machine.
“Based on the strategy of minimal intervention, we used the WikiHouse system for the only new-built structure on site,” said the architects. “It is lightweight and digitally fabricated. This faster and cleaner construction process suits the crowded and noise-sensitive neighbourhood very well.”
Compared to many futuristic design, this tiny house is nothing close to future at the first look. But its humble appearance and user adaptive interior may reflect something about the future in the ancient capital.
all images © Wu Qingshan