Studio 10 designs a ‘porous’ cloister-style community center in rural China

A banal, 50-meter long courtyard attached to a former branch office in Qinchang village is transformed into a vibrant public destination by the Chinese studio.

by Zohra Khan Published on : Oct 19, 2020

Studio 10, led by architect Shi Zhou, revealed an open cloister-style community center in Qinchang – a rural setting in the town of Xiuwu County of Central China. Being the village’s only public building, the project sees the transformation of an existing two-storey branch office and its 50-meter-long courtyard into a venue for events and gatherings, an office for the local administration and a recreational destination for villagers.

  • An aerial view of the Qinchang Village Community Center | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    An aerial view of the Qinchang Village Community Center Image: Chao Zhang
  • Entrance to the community center | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Entrance to the Qinchang Village Community Center Image: Chao Zhang

The macro-context of the project boasts of a history that dates back to 1000 BC, when King Wu of Zhou Dynasty named the town after his great triumph. The site, located on the eastern edge of the village, was surrounded by rows of traditional courtyard houses on its west and a community park, rye fields and the main street on the east. A discontinuity was established by its courtyard that separated the residential areas from the sprawling green landscape; as per the architects, pedestrians were used to taking a bypass to travel from one side to the other.

  • View of the building from the adjoining street | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    View of the building from the adjoining street Image: Chao Zhang
  • Concept diagram – circulation and views | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Concept diagram – circulation and views Image: Courtesy of Studio10

Intervening to increase the porosity between the west and east sides, Studio 10 opened up the courtyard walls by replacing them with an arched veranda and a cloister setting opening on the three sides; the former was included in the layout to enhance the pedestrian experience, and the latter to create a public space.

  • The reimagined courtyard | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    The reimagined courtyard Image: Chao Zhang
  • Arched verandah | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Arched verandah Image: Chao Zhang

“The project explores the duality of both transcendence and everyday life aesthetics,” says the Chinese studio. “We have taken our inspiration from archetypes of the local traditional earth shelter courtyard dwellings.”

  • Looking down to the courtyard from the office space on first floor | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Looking down to the courtyard from the office space on first floor Image: Chao Zhang
  • Interiors of the branch office | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Interiors of the branch office Image: Chao Zhang
  • Arches from the original building replicated across the new interiors | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Arches from the original building replicated across the new interiors Image: Chao Zhang

The former building, whose façade was punctuated by planar arches, sees a new light as the architects have reinforced, extracted and replicated it as motifs across the entire space. Adding to this, the building which was earlier clad in grey tiles, has now been veiled in layers of translucent polycarbonate whose characteristic translucency, as per the design team, has added a sense of lightness, and ambiguity to the immaculate geometry.

An aerial view of the courtyard with a grid of dried birch trunks | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
An aerial view of the courtyard with a grid of dried birch trunks Image: Chao Zhang

While the core office space resides in the two-storey block, the courtyard is designed as the heart of the place. A grid of dried birch trunks dots this central space; the soft labyrinth-like layout invites pedestrians to take a walk along the rows and children to practice roller skating.

Community events in the courtyard | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
Community events in the courtyard Image: Chao Zhang

Breaking the monotony of movement and an extension to the east-west flow, low-speed seating zones are created on the western pavement. The idea of seeking news off blackboard bulletin is brought back where preserved original blackboards express a welcoming contrast to the ‘age of information and smart phones’.

As intended by Studio 10, boundaries are blurred in the distance while ideology and nature are intertwined and integrated with the human dimension.

  • A view of the community center from the eastern end of the site | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    A view of the Qinchang Village Community Center from the eastern end of the site Image: Chao Zhang
  • Layout Plan – Ground Floor | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Layout Plan – Ground Floor Image: Courtesy of Studio 10
  • Layout Plan – First Floor | Qinchang Village Community Center | Studio 10 | STIRworld
    Layout Plan – First Floor Image: Courtesy of Studio 10

Project Details

Name: Qinchang Village CPC Branch Office Community Center
Location: Xiuwu County, Jiaozuo, Henan Province, China
Client: Village Committee of Qinchang, Chengguan Town, Xiuwu, Henan Province, China
Area: 780sqm
Architect: Studio 10
Principal-in-charge: Shi Zhou
Special Consultant: Shuaijun Han, Pengfei Chen
Graphic Design Consultant: SURE Design
Lighting Design Consultant: Matt Lighting Design Associates
Construction Drawings Consultant: Zhengzhou Kaiwu Landscape Design Ltd.
Construction: Henan Chuanghui Architecture & Decoration Engineering Co., Ltd.
Yeas of Completion: 2020

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