Micro Yuan'er, Beijing, China

Cha'er Hutong Yard Number 8, is a traditional Chinese courtyard dwelling in Beijing Historical Conservation Area. Once a temple, the site was transformed into a place of residence in the 1950s and has been shared by up to 12 residents.

The information on this project was compiled by students from the University of Geneva as part of the Urban Futures Workshop (full report).


The project aims to refresh the shabby yard and bring the underused courtyard into service while reserving its cultural characteristics, and to improve the living conditions of the neighbourhood.

Date : 2012-2014

Implementation period: 2 years

Time life of the project: Achieved

Cost: Funded by Beijing Dashilan Investment Company

Status of land : Private and Public

Type of place: traditional courtyard residence


  • Beijing Dashilan Investment Company,
  • The architects and the inhabitants are the originators.
  • After the construction, the users, including the children and the inhabitants, are constantly implementing it.
  • Inhabitants and the government are the co-owner of the project.

Target audience

Children in the neighborhood, inhabitants in the yard

Types of actions

  • Events: Many small-scale facilities are added to the courtyard, including Children’s library, miniature art space, little open-air theatre, art classrooms and communal kitchen.
  • Reversible actions: The new constructions can be demolished

Citizen participation

The project was initiated by the local authority of Xicheng District, but it aims to serve the citizens living there and the needs of the citizens are fully consulted prior to project design. While building the facilities, the implementors offered to renovate the inhabitants’ residence. More importantly, in order to prevent users and outsiders from peeping into the inhabitants’ house, the architect put a wooden screen in front of their residence. Since there are still inhabitants living in the yard, the place cannot be a completely public one, otherwise it would intrude on their private life. Allowing for the needs of the inhabitants, the operators have made a schedule clarifying opening hours of the facilities. An elder inhabitant in the community takes charge of the operation and maintenance of the facilities.

Types of intervention

  • Urban design / street intervention : Urban design and renovation of the residents’ dwelling; Redevelopment of the underused public area.
  • New activities : Children’s library, miniature art space, little open-air theatre, art classrooms
  • Waste and Environment : Improved courtyard environment



Achieved objectives: The retrofitted courtyard provides a venue for children to build connections with each other and also with the history and traditional lifestyle. The appearance and the functionality of the place as a residence are significantly improved, raising the living standards of the residents.


  • The facilities require routine maintenance and management, inducing extra costs.
  • The facilities are not open 24-hour.
  • The facilities could have been more inclusive to incorporate the needs of other groups such as the elderly.


ZAO/standardarchitecture/Zhang Ke

Tel: +86-10-62634351

Publication inquiries: me@z-a-o.cn

Project inquiries: p@z-a-o.cn



  • Type of action : aménagement / équipement
  • State : En cours