Works Appreciate
Works Appreciate


IAI Best Design Award-Building Renovation and Reconstruction

Project Name:Springstream House

Winner name:

Wei Na (China)

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Rural old building renovation


Xiaoxi Jia, translated as Springstream House, is a pioneer project worked together by architects, the local government, and the mass media to revitalize Poverty Alleviation Villages in China that has natural and cultural resources by protecting and promoting local characteristics.

The architects adapt locally sourced materials and endangered traditional construction techniques to convert a derelict house in Chi Xi Village, a rural village of Southern China, into the first guesthouse hosted by the local people. With the goal to carefully develop the tourism while protecting the native environments, the construction is completed by local workers and villagers. Like planting a tree, the architects intend to have the Xiaoxi Jia (Springstream House) coming from the local and growing into the surroundings, naturally.

Springstream House is situated in the village of Chi Xi in Fujian Province, where dramatic mountains, tea fields and bamboo forests create scenery evocative of typical Chinese ink paintings.

The village was among the first to be targeted by the Chinese government during an initiative launched in 1984 to alleviate extreme poverty in rural villages. Chi Xi village is known as the First Poverty Alleviation Village in China. Thirty years on, however, most properties in the village are abandoned or in extremely poor condition.

Like many Chinese villages in extreme poverty, Chi Xi village are located in beautiful but isolated natural environments. Hundreds years ago, the first arrivals came here to get away from wars and persecutions. The valley has been protecting the settlers since then for many generations. The built environment has become parts of the natural environment over the years. The village has formed its unique cultural and natural environments. However the same isolation situation that protected the ancestors also hinges the economical developments.

Recent years, with the economy growth, many villages are getting renovated for developments. At the same time, many local buildings have over hundred years old is facing the fate of being replaced by uniformed modern constructions. We have been working on the developments for Poverty Alleviation Villages for several years, enthusiastically trying to introduce confortable living condition while carefully preserve each villages’ existing characteristics, as all these unique treasures once gone we will lose them forever.

Xiaoxi Jia (Springstream) is a commissioned project due to a TV show. We were invited to renovate a house for a TV reality show. We hope through the mass media, we can try to let more people to see the value of the tradition and the beauty of the harmony relationship between built environments and natural environments.

An abandoned house typical of many disused properties in the village was chosen for renovation, with the completed building to be used as a bed and breakfast that will generate income for the community.

The two-storey building was carefully restored, and a separate guesthouse was erected on the site of a pair of structures previously used as sheep pens. The total floor area is 275 square meters. The main house's height and overall plan match those of the original building, partly due to the preservation of one of its gabled masonry walls. Reclaimed timber and windows salvaged from the surrounding region are used throughout the renovations. All materials for this project are locally sourced. More than 80 percentages of construction materials are existing on site or locally recycled. Local villagers with building techniques were hired to ensure the endangered traditional construction methods, like the mortise-and-tenon structure and special transformational window-door framing. The landscaping around the buildings uses local plants and stones available in the valley.

The buildings are positioned on the banks of a stream that cuts through mountains with rounded peaks. This scenery informed the shapes of curving tile-covered roofs that shelter verandahs lining both structures. The arching roofs also replicate the original house's wooden eaves, which had become bowed over time.

Local weather is mostly hot and humid year round with occasionally Typhoons. By studying local seasonal wind directions, particular windows for promoting ventilation were designed in this project to increase convection and to achieve passive cooling and dehumidifying.

Internally, the layout is based on the local tradition for arranging the rooms around a central hearth. The entrance opens onto a communal space containing a kitchen with its original stove with modern facilities. This space also accommodates a lounge area connected to a tea room on a covered outdoor deck. A window between the kitchen and tea room features shutters that pivot inwards to form an additional work surface. A series of copper seams incorporated into the poured-concrete floor direct guests from the entrance towards doors leading to the tea room and a terrace facing the stream.