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The South Yard
With an open addition in glass and bamboo to welcome visitors and children, AaL and Atelier OPA worked on a project to save from demolishment the last historic house of a small village in China.
The South Yard project by Advanced Architecture Lab and Atelier OPA, preserves an historic house from demolishment, with an addition in steel, glass and bamboo. Immersed by nature, the tranquil village founded by three clans (Sanjia means the “three surnames”) is located in Sanjia, Nanning, in the Guangxi Province.
During the reconstruction of the of the village most of the old houses were removed, leaving only an old cob-brick house beside a creek, hidden in a corn field. Originally conceived as a private dwelling, the house has gone through several heavy interventions. Party dilapidated, its adobe walls where mottled and ruined, together with the inner space: only the gable wall remained intact.
Finally owned by a teacher devoted to rural building construction, the new project was oriented to children’s natural education activities. Under her supervision, the old house had been renewed and preserved, being the only memorial of the former village. The South Yard is, therefore, a conceptual open connection between the city and the countryside, juxtaposing a bamboo and glass structure to the solid and heavy old brick building.
Since the space was very narrow, the architects removed the internal walls, and rebuilt them with a steel structure to form a larger area that would also grant stability and natural lighting. The collapsed brick walls were rebuilt carefully, combining new and old materials. The old house had been integrated with a new space made by glass walls, and high strength bamboo fibre composites. The transparency contributes to the visual connection to the old building and to the surrounding. The open character of the new addition, invites children from the village, passers-by and tourists to freely visit the space, and rest there for a while.