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WUJIASANJIAN STUDIO: Last spring, we received a project for the renovation of a small courtyard in rural Beijing.




It was early spring when we first went to the site, everything was not yet awake and full of depression. Behind the four bare toon trees, there was a yard filled with rubble, and a small house that had been abandoned for a long time. The landlord told us that the house was built in 1950, it was likely a poor family scraped together for a house like this back then. The entire timber structure was post-and-lintel frame, the materials used were mostly locally sourced and came in a variety of shapes. However, this was what made the house such a rare ‘handcrafted object’ in this industrial production context.


▽现场原状the existing site



The base was a 14m x 20m rectangle, which, although small in size, had a unique geographical advantage. It was located at the north side of the Shentangyu Landscape Road, with mountains at its back and facing the Yanqi River. Merci Mercy chose here to provide a short break for visitors walking along the walkway.


▽总平面图 master plan





When we took over the project, the demolition work was halfway through, leaving only the original main house and the west wing. For structural and external reasons, we decided to only keep the main house.

We expected the design to be “outward-viewing”, with a distant view of the southern landscape outside, yet “inward-viewing” at the same time, with a peaceful niche inside.

To maximise the use of the area, the extension was bounded by walls, leaving the centre empty to form a courtyard. The facades facing the courtyard and the south side were left open to allow for ‘viewing and enjoying’.


▽分析图 analysis diagram

▽建造过程construction process



The four toon trees at the entrance, although were bare at the first sight, seemed to contain endless vitality in their strong branches. The main entrance to the building was set between the two trees, as if passing through them you would enter a shelter. To the south of the extension was a bar counter and an open dining area, and through the large floor-to-ceiling windows, your view would skim over a clear river to the foot of mountains in the distance. Soon the leafy toon trees would cast dappled shadows on the concrete floor.


▽入口 entrance

▽南侧外立面局部 part of south facade

▽入口夜景 entrance night view

▽南侧就餐区看向远处山水View of the mountains from the southern dining area

▽南侧就餐区 southern dining area


▽西侧就餐区看向内院View of the courtyard from the western dining area



Dozens of bamboos were planted in the inner courtyard, which were still in the
maintenance stage while filming. Chinese people seem to prefer bamboo in their yards for its unflattering and natural character. Even on a sunny day, sitting in a courtyard with bamboo would makes you feel cooler immediately.


▽内院 courtyard

▽内院 视线可穿过南侧就餐区View of the southern dining area from the courtyard



The kitchen was located on the east side, while part of the west side was the
bathroom. Due to needs for privacy, partial cut-out brick walls were used to solve the problem of vision and to reduce the oppressive feeling generated by the large solid wall in the inner courtyard.


▽内院 courtyard

▽镂空砖墙 cut-out brick wall



The main house on the north side was largely preserved in its original structure, with the red tiles on the roof repaired, the wooden elements polished to their original texture and repainted for protection, the mats made of reeds on top and even the adobe walls above the beams repaired and preserved. At the north, there was a retaining wall built with cobblestones, which was so close to the house that three strip windows were cut in the north wall, therefore the backyard is as accessible as a hanging painting.


▽北侧正房 northern main house

▽红瓦上一只麻雀好奇地向上望着 a sparrow on the roof,looking up curiously

▽北侧正房内部northern main house interior

▽北侧正房夜景northern main house night view


▽平面图 plan

▽立面图 elevation




项目名称:四棵树下的小院-每喜merci mercy餐厅
客户:每喜 merci mercy

Project name:A small courtyard under four trees – Merci Mercy restaurant
Project type:building renovation&interior design
Contact e-mail:wujiasanjiandesign@163.com
Design year:2022.03
Completion Year:2022.11
Leader designer & Team:He xiaotian,Fang xueni
Project location:huai rou,beijing
Site area: 280㎡
Gross built area: 240㎡
Photo credit: Dayu studio
Clients: merci mercy
Materials:concrete,artistic coating,red brick




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