Location: Guangzhou, China

Area: 300 m²

Client: CP Wong & WK Wong

Date: 2010 - present

The client, brother & sister, approached Atelier3AM to redesign their ancestral family home; a 300 year old decrepit courtyard house in Guangzhou. Replete with family memories, the house was once the clients' father and grandfather''s refuge during World War II. Uninhabited for over 60 years, the existing structure was imbued with a sense of lost memory and lost time. the design sought to retain a typology similar to the still extant traditional courtyard houses in the area, which feature mostly blank high walls as the exterior envelope.  

Different sized courtyards are introduced for each of the two units; some are for communal living and others are for individual contemplation, connected by a central staircase. by reusing some of the original bricks, the design works to subtly embrace its history. Certain historical motifs such as wood screens and circular stone archways, are retained and reintroduced into the new design. Staircases descending to the courtyard are lit from above with natural lighting creating a dramatic play of sharp shadows. As the inhabitant descends to the courtyard, he or she is filled with a sense of entering the void: a liminal space where history and memory can be recaptured momentarily.