Revitalized farmer’s cottage at the Great Wall of China: The narrative about the Chinese countryside has been dominated by perceptions of rural depopulation. Local effort alone is not adequate to the task of addressing the multiple challenges of rural communities when their vitality has been compromised by the flight of people and jobs into large cities.

Given the close proximity of Beijing to its surrounding rural areas like Bo Hai Zhen, community revitalization has captured our imagination. The project was driven by the intuition that a moderate gentrification could eventually lead to a modest prosperity for some of the remaining villagers.

Repurposing a rural dwelling into a holiday home posed an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the countryside while creating a weekend escape from city-live in order to connect with friends and family in new ways.

The cottage had been built by a local farmer in the 1970’s, but had been abandoned for at least 15 years. The house was stripped down to its bare and rural structure before an entirely new program was inserted by placing functional brick boxes in between the original timber beam grid. ‘No finishes of any sort were applied to the existing brickwork as well as all of the new additions to the building, keeping the interiors as bare as possible,’ says Christian Taeubert, Director of CLOU.

The simple material palette consists of reclaimed wood, locally harvested timber, reclaimed steel for counter-tops, brick, precast concrete wash basins, precast concrete ceiling pillars and a few recycling yard furniture pieces.

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