Hutong Playground: Beijing Design Week 2017

How to inject a public splinter into a domestic dimension?
How to reinterpret an ancient small housing system inside a huge growing metropolis?
These were the main questions the project intended to answer with simple moves, proposing some new points of reflection on the possible future for Beijing inner city.
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Leading University: Politecnico di Torino (DAD + DIST + China Room research group)
Partner Institutions: Tsinghua University of Beijing and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Research Grant: Beijing Design Week, Baitasi Remade
Principal Investigators: Michele Bonino

Scientific Curatorship: Michele Bonino, Alberto Bologna, Silvia Lanteri, Marta Mancini, and Maria Paola Repellino
Co-curatorship: Florence Graezer Bideau
Research Team: Enrica Perrot, Lidia Preti, and Deng Huishu


Installation: HUTONG PLAYGROUND: Beijing Design Week 2017
Pavilion: Hutong Playground
Beijing Design Week 2017
September 23rd, 2014 – October 7th, 2017
Baitasi, Beijing

Beijing Design Week 2017
Beijing Design Week 2017

Beijing Design Week (BJDW) is an annual event, that takes place in the fall season in Beijing. First launched as a pilot effort in 2009, it has quickly become the leading international platform for design in China.
Baitasi ReMade, as part of the event, is trying to improve this neighbourhood through design, pushing the architect-urbanist to give up his “demolisher-designer-constructor” role to become an “urban curator” able to transform the city through a sensible look.
Within this framework, the “Hutong Playground” installation is the result of the collaboration between Politecnico di Torino (joining the event for the fourth time) and the EPFL of Lausanne. It was a reflection on the theme Making Neighborhood proposed by the organization.

Each of the ten selected participants – Politecnico di Torino was the only Italian – was asked to turn one of the traditional courtyards into the exhibition ground. Hutong Playground created a new aggregation point for neighbourhood residents, transforming the traditional court space into a different place, where gameplay becomes the most important element.
The inner courtyard, enclosed by four buildings, contained an imaginary volume defined by the blue colour covering each surface. Placed in an apparently casual way – indifferently in between inside and outside of the buildings – it was intended as a playground that welcomed in the private and intimate part of the house some elements commonly owned by the public space: ping pong, gymnastic equipment, Chinese chess, hopscotch. In this way the project intended to drag a fragment of urban vitality within the domestic sphere, scrapping and questioning the already unbreakable border between public and private dimensions. Interacting actively with the installation, the visitor was led to think about aggregation dynamics within this part of the city.

Beijing Design Week 2017
Beijing Design Week 2017

Observing Baitasi from within, this installation was the first occasion for the China Room to explore the relationship between the Beijing Design Week (BJDW) temporary event and long-term incremental urban transformations, in between the physical dimension of the city and its representation.
It offered the opportunity to reflect on the reciprocal intersection between processes of micro-urban regeneration and culture – considered as a means of urban narration and images production. Moreover, it was the starting point for some researches as the PhD thesis entitled Eventful Hutong. Incremental Regeneration Processes for Dashilar and Baitasi within Beijing Design Week.

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