Project: La Maison Xun
Architects: LDH Design
Location: Beilucaoyuan Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
Area: 5,381 sf
Photographs by: Courtesy of LDH Design
La maison Xun by LDH Design
“It is necessary for us to make changes and forge ahead when we deal with architectural design, yet we have to look back on our history and honor our cultural features during the process.”
Said by Ieoh Ming Pei, 92, on the night when he was awarded with the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. We can see the remark as the summary from a designer over nearly a century.
The unstoppable impetus of modernization is destroying the tradition of cities and blurring their cultural features. Compared with the standing buildings and mansions made of iron and steel, those Hutong courtyards with smoke from kitchen chimneys are more precious. Inheritance and revival have left issues to be solved for Chinese designers.
In a courtyard in Beijing’s Beilucaoyuan Hutong, La maison Xun, a Chinese restaurant opens quietly. Unlike the high-end restaurants that are prevailing these days, La maison Xun is designed with modern art in its interior while being designed with traditional art in its exterior.
In today’s world full of dazzling aesthetics, Designer Liu Daohua insists on respect for history and nature and leads people to trace the tranquility of old Beijing in memory.
Different spaces have different forms and meanings. As far as La maison Xun is concerned, the essence of its design lies in the introspective experience towards aesthetics and art and the sense of the times among intuitive feelings, namely, to feel the natural serenity of the city by turning eyes to the secluded old Hutong.
Every brick and every tile of this restaurant can be used to make a poem, and every grass and every tree will always arouse your feelings.
When you push the red gate and walk into the courtyard, what leaps to your eyes are traditional Chinese art elements such as grey tiles, wooden eaves, black walls, and ancient trees, which lead us back to those gorgeous days. For a split second, the simple but elegant, unsophisticated, tranquil and rich historical aesthetic perception can all be added as a bonus to this gourmet trip.
“This restaurant is not a top-level or high-end chamber, but a landscape that can restore the original state of Beijing.” Said Liu Daohua.
The designer intends to face the tradition and antique with an attitude of returning to original simplicity by deliberately avoiding heavy and complicated pile-up, namely, removing the cumbersome “makeup”, restoring the structure of the building, and restoring the traces of history.
In such a cozy environment, the cultural attributes of, traditional memory and temperature on the courtyard for several hundred years have been re-presented, maintaining the historical sense of beauty without losing the elegance of modern aesthetics.
A blend of the ancient and the modern
Chen Lai, a historian of philosophy, once summed up the personality of Beijingers as gentile and courteous, optimistic, carefree and content, tolerant and kind, and humorous, which are exactly the foundation of traditional Beijing culture.
As the cultural center of China for centuries, “inclusiveness” is also a characteristic of Beijing endowed by history. Faced with the worldwide influence of western renaissance and industrial revolution, Beijing is destined to experience a transition period of conflict between tradition and modernity, between Eastern and Western cultures.
In terms of blind pursuit of the visual impact of Western-style aesthetics, “If a city of the old oriental country completely loses its artistic character in architecture, it will be very painful in terms of cultural manifestation and impression.” as said by Liang Sicheng.
Therefore, Liu Daohua always regards this project as the reduction of historical architecture, and regards it as his mission to protect the artistic details of Beijing courtyard in the way of integration and inclusion of traditional and modern design.
Oriental artistic conception
“We didn’t make too many changes in the relationship between forms and structures in the space, above all, we construct the relevance between traditional design and nature.”
Such an excellent courtyard project is quite scarce and has strong cultural orientation. Liu Daohua, along with Wang Xiaofei and Wang Zhenyu, co-owners of the restaurant, hopes to integrate some of China’s finest original furniture and artworks into this architecture with a strong Beijing style.
As such, Maxmarko of Derek Chen, art furniture from Chendarui series and other original furniture designed for the space, and pupu bear of artist Zhang Zhanzhan, are integrated into the space to jointly create a way of life, making the space more diversified and having more possibility in future orientation.
Art is an enlivened science, and great art has always been of the most emotional and decorative value.
As Kerry Hill said, “I’m not trying to make a contrast between the ‘new’ and the ‘old’, but to find a delicate balance between them”. As the inheritor of the balance between the ancient and the modern, the Chinese and the western culture, Liu Daohua also tries to seek a solution to harmony.
Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
The symmetrical distribution of the space not only reflects the sense of classical beauty and order, but also echoes the golden mean of “harmony between man and nature” in eastern philosophy. The ancient charm of traditional architecture is fully presented in this space, and every beam and column arouse people’s longing for the elegance and taste of ancient Chinese.
While enjoying the delicious food, guests can feel the calmness and peace endowed by traditional culture, the historical bearing of the old Beijing courtyard, and the artistic atmosphere emitted by modern aesthetics.
The combination of the new and the old, the collision of tradition and fashion, and the integration of modern aesthetics and the vivid oriental artistic conception are the new trend of contemporary art and the best extension of the life of courtyards.
-Project description and images provided by LDH Design