Villa Jian by CU Office

Villa Jian by CU Office

Architects: CU Office
Project team: Che Fei, Zhang Xuefeng, Zhao Chao, Li Huihui, Zhang Xin, Cui Jingyi, Zeng Yilan, Chang Yue
Site area: 10,000 sqm
Building area: 1,000 sqm
Completion date: 2012
Photography: Brando Posocco
Location: Yantai, China


The concept of Villa Jian came from the local architecture word called “Jian”. In the local architecture culture, there was one commonly used for building space base unit that is “Jian”, one “Jian” represented a width of about 3.3 m to 3.6 m of spatial scale, this word “Jian” not only represented a space base unit, but also strongly linked with the local traditional form of construction. Before going further to the development of the design, the client‘s requirement was to build 11 “Jian”. Thus, there was a given condition of designing a big house with a double-slope roof covering 11 “jian”. According to the needs of the client, the building consisted of main two basic functions: office space and exhibition space, both of the functions were limited to a semi-open private property.

The starting point was how to combine the semi-open exhibition space with a semi-closed office space under a single roof. The idea was finally to divide both the exhibition and the office into two parts: public exhibition and private exhibition, public office and private office. Public exhibition and office space were placed in the first floor, and the private exhibition and private office were placed in the second floor. Therefore, the entrance was designed to be a semi-open exhibition space, while the other side on the first floor was proposed to be the staff offices. On the second floor, just opposite to the first floor, above the entrance of the first floor were a private parlor and a private office, and the other part was a private exhibition hall. The entire function spaces have become an X-form in the section; the center position of the X has become the hub of linking two functions and two stories. Here wide stair steps were designed for seating as well where the semi-open exhibition space and the semi-closed office space have dramatically been intersected together. This stair hall, as a mixed space, had not only a circulation function but also a dual function for the exhibition performances and the meeting space. Thus, a mixed space system linking different regular functions was the core concept of the building.

As an architectural work, Villa Jian is intending or trying to answer two main questions. The first is what the relationship between the project and the geography is. Villa Jian interprets what the geography is as the regionalism in contemporary architecture vernacular. It means Villa Jian is a contemporary architectural work that respects local culture and customs. It was intended to create an active and constructive regionalism rather than preserve and duplicate conventional locality. Since the ventilated facade system was used in outside-wall, it doesn’t necessarily imitate the image of a hand work by laying bricks and stones.

The second question is what the meaning of the architecture quality in Chinese vernacular is. In current China, can private owners make high-quality architectures? Since Chinese citizens are not allowed to acquire the property of the land in the country, the architectures built by private owners usually face being demolished to make way for public interests. Due to this circumstance, private owners would not like to pursue traditionally architectural high-quality to make it last for a hundred years or even eternally. The design of Villa Jian had to reconsider defining its quality, transforming eternality of architectural quality into a daily improved high-quality life. What the design of Villa Jian pursues is the integrate of interior and exterior, an intense and pithy language, a precise structure and details, and high-quality spaces without being packed with expensive materials.

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