.............................5HaO HoUsE........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................


Fact sheet

PROJECT :
Design shop // refurbishment // installations

SITE :
Wanrong house// Beijing // China

STATUS :
Partly built (refurbishment)

SIZE : 700m²

CLIENT : 5xing

BUDGET : 15 KEUROS

TEAM :
Benjamin Beller, Florent Souly

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5Hao asked BaO to help them renovate and transform the former residence of Wanrong, the last emperor's wife, into a curated shop dedicated to design, fashion and art. The house is a typical big courtyard in the middle of Beijing hutongs that, although containing 2 historical relics and being built in a traditional style, has been transformed and rebuilt many times. A three steps project was proposed :

:: Demolish the surplus and decors that were lately added to the house in order to retrieve the beauty of the bare spaces and volumes

:: Rebuild several contemporary elements contrasting with the traditional layout

:: Design modules enabling the creation of furniture, spaces, displays and flexible reconfiguration of spaces, that would colonize the whole house.

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:: 5HaO modules ::

5HaO concept is based on the 5 chinese elements (earth, wood, fire, metal, water) that form a cycle throughout the seasons. The shop having a collection that changes every three months, maximum flexibility and reconfigurability was needed for the spaces. A very simple cubic module with predesigned connections was elaborated with various extrusion lengths and 3 basic dimensions. The combination of these modules could form benches, tables, partition walls, shelves, and useable volumes that could be mounted and dismounted very quickly and easily. Like a big lego game, 5HaO would be able to create thousands of different configurations for every show they would curate or event they would organize.

:: Shifting facade ::

The modular principle was further developped to become the one element that permits us, alongside the furniture and displays, to rebuild extensions, roofs and new facades. The facade principle is a regular stack of modules equipped with glazing on the exterior face. Th modules having different lengths, Each show-case could individually be detached from the other ones and be shifted to stick out of the mass. When all the modules were shifted, the facade was able to transform from a flat grid-like vitrine to a hectic fragmented surface. The wall could thus, according to the needs, 'bring forward' few products, be transformed into an irregular showcase, or be partly or entirely dismounted (in summer or if 5HaO had to move out).


:: Installations ::

Alongside the transformation project, BaO was originally commissioned for 4 temporary installations in the courtyard (1season / 1installation). For timing and budgetary reasons, we decided to combine the production of the modules with the first installation in spring (wood). The 'starting box' was designed as a simple volume made of the 5HaO modules, a kind of matrials stock taht could be inhabited and activated. This temporary shelter/storage embodied the opening of the shop and its slow deconstruction fueled the construction of 5HaO overall project (brand, spaces, displays). One by one, day by day, the modules would be dismounted and migrate toward the interiors of the house. While the starting-box was being dismantled, the shop was being colonized, build and furnished with the modules. The construction of the shop and the collections were accompanied by the degeneration of the installation disappearing slowly to give raise to the next season's object.

:: Renovation ::

'Less is more' technique was applied wherever possible by getting rid of the successive makeup layers that had been applied on the house. Additions and partition walls were dismounted to retrieve circulations and light, fake ceilings demolished to expose roofs structures and reconstruct pavilions volumes, floors and walls carefully redefined with bare and raw materials.


Due to major changes in the overall 5HaO strategy, only the deconstruction / renovation of Wanrong's house was finally implemented. Neither installations nor facades or extensions were unfortunately built.