Nanchizi New Courtyard Housing in Beijing: Residents’ Perceptions and Experiences of the Redevelopment
Cultural sustainability is the theoretical framework for this study, which investigates Nanchizi (“South Pond”) new courtyard housing experimental project constructed in Beijing, China, in 2003. It is located in a traditional courtyard house neighborhood right to the east of the Forbidden City, in a culturally and politically sensitive area that the initial scheme had even caught the attention of UNESCO. The redevelopment project has restored numerous single-storey traditional courtyard houses that were in relatively good condition, demolished those in poor condition, and rebuilt two-storey new courtyard housing units with modern facilities and shared courtyards whose style and features resemble some aspects of Beijing siheyuan. This 2007-2008 onsite survey and semi-structured interviews with residents, project architect, and lead developer critically examine this approach to historic preservation in China. The findings reveal that communal courtyards promote social interaction and private courtyards facilitate cultural activities, despite some issues raised by the residents, including irrational unit design and poor construction quality, among others. The study attempts to offer valuable lessons and proposes a new courtyard garden house design template for discussion and future practice.
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