The Thin House

March 2007, Beijing, China – HONORABLE MENTION

Beijing has become a global centre for the arts, creativity and commerce. The influx of foreign visitors and the ever increasing number of young successful Chinese has generated a demand for retail and leisure of international standards.
Gaobeidian, which is where the GBD Art District is located, is quickly developing into a leisure area with a rich history. It is a short ten minute drive from Beijing’s Central Business District (CBD).
The low cost neighbourhood ‘Industrial Renewal Art District’ allows artists to develop their careers and turns the GBD district into a potential hub for experimental art.  GBD, with is various cultural forms and activities, will be the embodiment of a new kind of urbanism in China. GBD is the space for experimentation, modernity and openness in Beijing.

The architectural challenge is to design a house that combines private rooms for creating art and living together with extroverted rooms for exhibitions. Each unit should be 50 m2 in plan and a maximum of 10 metres in height.

The Thin House is generated by a rectangular plan of 12,5 x 4 metres, with a structure grid of 4 x 2,5 metres.
To use the space efficiently, in spite of the three clearly separate programmes – gallery, atelier, house -, we divide the total volume into seven semi-levels rather than into three floors, providing practical programmatic connections while separating the different atmospheres. Common entities such as the kitchen or the bathroom will be placed in the connection between two semi-levels. We will place the most public space – the gallery – on the first semi-level on the ground floor, and the most private space – the pool for nude swimming – in the top of the house, only accessible through the patio in the bedroom.

Each of the three functions – gallery, atelier, house – has an independent entrance from the outside through an external staircase. The atelier and the house are also internally connected.
The gallery on the ground floor is mostly transparent to the street. The front façade can be completely opened up during the warm months to allow the gallery function to continue into the street. The atelier and the gallery are visually connected.
The Thin House can stand alone or may be combined in pairs or in rows, by sharing the external staircase. In this case the galleries may be connected to each other, transforming the ground floor into a continuous exhibition space.

Over two hundred units will be built to form the GBD Art District, to be completed before the 2008 Olympic Games.


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: The Thin House
Project name:500 m3 Design – GBD Art District Phase 1
Date: March 2007
Type: International Open Competition
Organizer: GBD Art District
Participants: ≈ 300
Location: Beijing, China
Site: 900m south to east Chang’an Avenue, on east to east Fifth Ring Road, on north to Guangqu Road.
Programme: 200 houses units. Each unit: Gallery + Atelier + Housing
Surface: Ground floor area 50 m² height 10m; volume: 500 m3. Each unit: Gallery 47,15 m², Atelier 25,7 m², Living space 77,15 m²
Status: Competition
Client: Boloni Home Decor together with Thinking Hands Co.,LTD
Budget: N/A
Publications: Future Arquitecturas #15, Madrid, Spain, January 2009
Exhibitions: West Arch – A New Generation in Architecture at the Ludwig Forum für International Kunst, Aachen, Germany, September 12 – November 14, 2010
STAR Team: Beatriz Ramo, Joana Garcia de Oliveira, Astrid Rovisco Suzano