San Sa Village

San Sa Village

Architect
llLab. Architects
Location
Beigou Village, Huairou District, Beijing, China | View Map
Project Year
2019
Category
Villages
Fernando Guerra I FG+SG

San Sa Village

llLab. Architects as Architects

"San Sa", formerly named as "The Third Hometown", refers to a social space created for an introspective group of people who seek a space away from everyday life to recharge the mind, body, and spirit. The project is situated on a 2,000-square-meter unused plot of land, which was originally occupied by a gas station and about forty minutes' walk from the Mutianyu Great Wall.

 

The original idea of the project was to build an inclusive rural oasis in a place that has been selected as one of China's top ten most beautiful villages by a number of internationally renowned media.  The aim is to provide visitors with a spatial and sensory experience that evokes personal renewal, inpart by reflecting on the imagined memory of lives past. To embed within the design an appreciation for the site's heritage, we extended the existing spatial arrangement of the village, scattering the architectural blocks in-line with the typical village plan, while combining those blocks into an integrated whole.

 

This approach enabled us to create a spatial pattern and order that blends rather seamlessly into the local built environment. By subverting the stereotypical concept of rural tourism resorts, we hope to create a kind of "village within a village" and to give this piece of land the vitality it deserves.

 

The visions happened to coincide; the concept of "village within village" began to develop, growing throughout the design and construction process of more than four years.

 

Design. This project complies with the basic elements and volume division of the original village, and aims to simplify architectural details in order to facilitate the use of local resources. The design emerges through this process, informed in part, by the overall rhythm and pace of real life, and through a lived experience of the building site.

 

Materials. Within the particular environment of Beijing, the selection, production and transportation of building materials posed many challenges throughout construction. Therefore, we tried our best to use local materials that were authentic and readily available, without introducing ornamental or decorative elements. Observing the natural phenomenon of the wind and the sun helped to reveal the hidden wisdom and beauty of the materials. The old slate as the landscape pavement, the porous red brick in the private courtyard, the stone brick joints at the building wall base, and the collocation of red brick and blue brick used for building walls, all together made the relatively impressive material characteristics and the dignity of the architectural geometry present a feeling of leisure and quietness.

 

Realization. The whole process of building became a growing process of constant trial, self-pursuit and self-subversion. Only with the participation of local villagers can village houses find their real roots and become truly integrated into the village life. The construction team was fully integrated with modern management and local villagers' practices. From architectural design, drawings and communication, to production samples, on-site testing, error correction, re-understanding, re-production, and repetitive attempts, the entire team came to form common values. The entire team's commitment to these idealistic values may be the most fundamental to the realization of San Sa.

 

Details. The details of this project, in our view, certainly cannot be as good as the ideals rendered by the pen on the paper. However, the coordination and compromise in the details are produced by the process of integrating the intention of rational design with the subjectivity of in-situ thinking. Indeed, the most attractive details of San Sa are derived through the communication, contradictions, conflicts, and lessons that arise on site, and especially through subsequent experimental attempts in the case of unknown results.

 

Architects with different cultural backgrounds used their experience and vision to precisely plan the details. The attitude of the construction team changed from "typically we don't do this, typically we do this," to a new understanding of joints and connections through hand drawing and through the meticulous realization of the final production. From learning the proper alignment of materials to understanding randomized patterning, until by the end, feeling it was not perfect enough and spontaneously hoping to continue improving; this transformation was the most gratifying part for us among all the architectural details.

 

Ecology. The layout of the design aims to make the ecology of buildings and courtyards different from other typical buildings in North China. By responding to issues of human-scale and social interface in place-making, the project seeks to break the conventional 'mode of thought' for the Visitor. The continuation of culture and lifestyle is certainly necessary, but it is meaningless to conservatively follow the rules and blindly carry it forward.

 

We hope to use this method, which seems to challenge the typical comfort zone for people living in the North to interact with space, and to bring the visitors another way of contemplating life. You can feel that the courtyards are similar to those in South China, or feel that they are a mixture of north and south buildings. You may feel that there is not enough privacy, but more likely, you may come to feel that the space offers some enticing exotic elements. In any case, this kind of thinking has already brought forward the vitality of self-reflection and a conscious engagement with the environment.

 

This kind of "courtyard neighborhood" ecology may be the best way for "San Sa" to help people who visit to re-examine their lives and to gain an appreciation for the original intention and method of rural construction.

 

Vision. The courtyard scene is also a vision.
When you see a beautiful building standing in the beautiful countryside, please do not be too hasty to mention what has been given up for the Zen, which has become a cliché, or recklessly defined as merely an architectural style. Zen is not a superficial word, but requires more serious understanding and criticism, so as to give these lives more deserved respect.

 

Sitting in the yard, this is the most beautiful moment of "San Sa" when you no longer feel disturbed by close neighbors, when you can enjoy the stars again, when you are able to sit still in one place but forget about the time.

 

"San Sa" is a kind of joy to art, an embrace to the five senses, and a respect to regional culture.

Read story in DeutschFrançaisEspañolItaliano and Português

Featured Projects
Latest Products
News
Poppodium Nieuwe Nor offers a new landmark and hub for new music in the Netherlands
29 Jun 2022 News
Poppodium Nieuwe Nor offers a new landmark and hub for new music in the Netherlands

  In the city center Of Heerlen, Poppodium Nieuwe Nor by diederendirrix is a unique new landma... More

Izar Houses in Mexico celebrate the natural landscape, light, and rainfall
29 Jun 2022 News
Izar Houses in Mexico celebrate the natural landscape, light, and rainfall

On a steep site in Mexico, Izar Houses by Taller ADG Alonso de Garay pay exceptional attention to en... More

25 best architecture firms in Madrid
27 Jun 2022 News
25 best architecture firms in Madrid

Madrid is a center of gravity for European architecture. Spain’s capital city is host to an am... More

Lviv’s Radio Garage offers an experimental space for temporary exhibitions with a focus on radio, sound art, VR-art, and interactive media
25 Jun 2022 News
Lviv’s Radio Garage offers an experimental space for temporary exhibitions with a focus on radio, sound art, VR-art, and interactive media

In Lviv, Radio Garage is a media art centre and an experimental gallery for temporary exhibitions wi... More

Urban infill project Manifesto Market Andel activates an underutilized gap in Prague’s urban fabric
25 Jun 2022 News
Urban infill project Manifesto Market Andel activates an underutilized gap in Prague’s urban fabric

Located in Prague’s Andel District, Manifesto Market Andel is an urban infill project activati... More

Amsterdam’s iconic Droogbak building transformed into a 21st-century office space for a prestigious law firm
24 Jun 2022 News
Amsterdam’s iconic Droogbak building transformed into a 21st-century office space for a prestigious law firm

An iconic 19th-century building next to Amsterdam Central Station, Droogbak has been transformed int... More

Renovated hacienda-style villa in Belgium respects its history while exploring form and materials
24 Jun 2022 News
Renovated hacienda-style villa in Belgium respects its history while exploring form and materials

House VD-B by Graux & Baeyens architecten is a renovated hacienda-style villa in Evergem, Belgiu... More

Landmark urban renewal project comes to the heart of Bruges with the completion of The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC)
22 Jun 2022 News
Landmark urban renewal project comes to the heart of Bruges with the completion of The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC)

In the heart of the historic city of Bruges, The Bruges Meeting & Convention Centre (BMCC) is a... More