Bubbles On Beijing

Bubbles On Beijing

MAD Architects’ ambitious vision of revitalizing city neighborhoods takes a step forward with completion of “Hutong Bubble 218,” a visionary renovation of a traditional courtyard structure that once housed an international hospital.

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 view from rooftop next to one bubble looking across at the other with partial interior view

The “Beijing 2050” project aspires towards an aesthetic makeover of the urban fabric, principally via the addition of reflective metallic bubbles—a modification that updates the mise en scene of the neighborhood while establishing a dialogue between old and new.

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 view of neighborhood rooftops including view of one bubble on Hutong 218

In Hutong 218, the bubbles are part and parcel of an extensive renovation of the historical structure. The larger of the two contains a dramatic spiral staircase that connects the building’s first and second floors.

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 spiral staircase view from above

Appearing is if it just alighted on the rooftop—like some extraterrestrial sentry—the other bubble is less integrated with the structure yet creates a compelling visual scene as it appears to be in dialogue with the “eye” (or mouth if you prefer) of its proximate companion.

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 view looking across at both bubbles with woman standing in window of one

While the reflective additions are quite dramatic, they’re but accompanying elements to the comprehensive renovation, which encompasses a complete restoration of the inner courtyard (with painstaking refurbishment of the historical wood filigree panels); reconstruction and reframing of wood and door panels along with new glazing; and extensive replacement of brick work on the street-facing side.

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 view of street with bubbles in the distance and front of structure visible
MAD Hutong Bubble 218 restoration of courtyard before and after views with partial views of bubble on rooftop beyond

MAD characterizes the futuristic aesthetic of the new structures as an imaginative link between history and the present day, a mirroring motif that cleverly integrates the new with the old: “The smooth mirrored surfaces reflect the ancient buildings, trees, and sky within the vicinity, blending into the environment… instead of interrupting the existing urban fabric, the old and new complement one another.”

MAD Hutong Bubble 218 view from rear of structure with encompassing view of bubble descending towards second floor

See MAD Architects to read more.

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