The pull of the big city life has left a good portion of Chinese countryside a little worse for wear. ‘Urban agglomeration’ is the pretty dreary term that describes the phenomenon – young people abandon the provincial life for the excitement of the bright, lucrative city, leaving villages and towns without inhabitants of a working age. Grandparents and grandchildren are left to pick up the slack – and struggle to sustain their rural way of life. It’s something that has struck a chord with Beijing-based architect Christian Taeubeut.
For Christian, a part of the answer to the problem might be in a tender gentrification of homes within these abandoned communities. Studio Cottage, in a suburban village near Beijing, is his first example.
First built in the 1970s, the home was left unoccupied and forgotten when its owners shipped off to the heart of the city. Christian’s idea was to maintain the rustic identity of the house, but to layer it with modern comforts and features – an effort to revive and rediscover the structure in a new time, rather than just preserve the past.
Christian worked closely with the farmer who had originally built the home (who was apparently happy that his country dwelling was getting a new lease on life). Using mostly locally sourced materials, the wide courtyard has been restored with areas for play and lounging. Inside, the home is laid out on an open plan, with large sliding glass doors and windows to allow the country air in. At one end are the master bedroom and bathroom, the kitchen and dining area runs through the middle, and a second, smaller sleeping space takes up the far corner.