Tongling Recluse by RSAA / Büro Ziyu Zhuang
In the remote village of Longtan in Anhui Province, China, RSAA / Büro Ziyu Zhuang transforms a ramshackle ruin into an enchanting home straight out of a folktale.
In Chinese architecture, the basic building block is referred to as a bay—the space between the roof supports. This modern home was once a dilapidated house built in the traditional Huizhou and Yanjiang style, with three bays along the east-west axis, and one bay along the south-north axis. After sitting abandoned for ten years, the home was overgrown with weeds, and its roof and walls were badly damaged. The idea for a new 1,722-square-foot house was born when the home’s owner spoke to Ziyu Zhuang of RSAA: “Look at the tallest tree that survived in our village. It’s beautiful. It should be seen in this house after it’s been rebuilt.” And so the design of the home, named Tongling Recluse, evolved around preserving the tree and elements from the old ruins. Keeping the tree in mind, Zhuang divided the ruins of the old walls into two parts. He added a new bay to the west and oriented it towards a rocky mountain. Another bay enlarges the main living areas. RSAA lowered the front of the roof’s ridge to create a traditional folded roof that integrates harmoniously with the streamlined interior spaces.
“The new ridge formed a bay of its own. One half of this bay is incorporated into the outdoor contour of the original building, while the other half forms the veranda under the eaves. The design reveals a virtual space against the physical house in the east elevation and converses with the sunken garden landscape in the south,” says Zhuang. The terrace, living room, dining room, and kitchen are located along the more exposed eastern side of the house. The courtyard and bedroom are located along the more private western section.