Chinese architecture practice Archstudio has completed the renovation of a 410-sq-m residential complex in one of Beijing’s famous hutong neighbourhoods. The house – once a group of disconnected brick and concrete structures – is now a unified space that can be rented for dwelling, working and gathering, among other activities.

The original building consisted of three main parts: there were two brick structures in the front and a larger U-shaped one behind. Archstudio executed a mindful renovation, adding corridors and staircases to connect the rooms and the yards; the end-result is a circulation route that loops and folds seamlessly.

Additionally, the house’s small, narrow rooms were turned into wider and brighter spaces, framed with glass walls. The design team used a material palette of bricks, grey tiles and cement to reference traditional siheyuan spaces and create a further sense of continuity between indoors and out. Attention was also paid to the outdoor area, where there is now a courtyard embellished with bamboo trees and seats for resting.

‘The greatest challenge for this transformation project was how to present a more dynamic space with a variety of functions,’ says Han Wenqiang from Archstudio. With Folding Courtyard, the architect shows an elegant and smart way to connect isolated structures, turning the complex into a contemporary and multifunctional siheyuan.