Dongs’ House Restaurant

TM Studio

Location: Pingjiang Road, Suzhou

Design: 9/2003 - 11/2003

Construction: 11/2003 - 7/2004

Architect: TONG Ming, CHEN Hui

Site area: 2.400 m2

Floor area: 1.800 m2

Dongs’ House Restaurant is located in one of the largest and best-preserved historic areas, the Pingjiang District, in Suzhou. Suzhou is an ancient Chinese city with a history of more than 3.000 years.

Previously, Dongs’ House was a typical courtyard residential unit belonged to a big family. After several decades of overuse and neglect, has been degraded like many other houses in the Pingjiang District. Dongs’ House Restaurant was launched by the local government as a sample renovation project to transform the declined residential and factory block into restaurants and bars, with a proposal to promote the river street into an attractive area for tourists. The historical surrounding was proposed as a backdrop for the tourists, who can have drinks and a simple dinner there.

The Dong’s House Restaurant project was confronted by two challenges: to preserve the historic urban fabric and to update the decrepit dwelling to respond to contemporary urban life. According to the condition of the existing buildings, the site was distinguished into two parts: the southern part was the traditional courtyard housing which needed to be physically preserved. The outer walls of the old houses were carefully kept to maintain the continuity in original appearance. Steel frames that match the new requirement replaced the interior wooden structure. Several gaps were delicately presented between the renewed structures and the old walls. The inlet skylight from the roof can highlight the traditional spatial qualities. The northern part was a small factory to be demolished and rebuilt. The new building was designed innovatively and diagrammatically to provide a contemporary space of modernity among the preserved buildings. A coffee bar with spiraled floors, each step with 40 cm height, which became indoor and outdoor terraces in order to allow the visitors the view over the beautiful skyline of the river street. The new building was coated with a dark brick wall in a woven pattern, through which the visitors could have an open view of the surroundings from the inside. In the same time a solid boundary was provided by the building to define the open space along the river in daytime, which could also act as a lantern in the evening to render the specific atmosphere of the revival of the historic district.

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