images © Howeler + Yoon
Architects Höweler + Yoon have recently completed their first project in China, a 20,000 square-foot corporate clubhouse whose form is based on the hutong or traditional Chinese courtyard house. Dubbed “Sky Courts”, the project is characterized by slanted roofs, recessed, Ronchamp-esque windows, and textured brickwork. Here, the architects, who just took home the Audi Urban Futures Award, render classic motifs contemporary, updating their aesthetics without dispossessing them of their cultural heritage. From above, the structure looks completely like an ancient courtyard, but beneath the roof lies tons of short-term housing, offices, and entertainment facilities. Read more.
Located in Chengdu, China, the Sky Courts complex consists of a series of interconnected spaces, all oriented around several interior courtyards with multiple centers that have many paths, edges, and walkways. The exterior envelope slants up and down, curves left and right, folding into itself at parts and popping out at others. This scheme layers the interior spaces on top of each other to create room for the numerous courtyards, and keep inter-office flow easy and efficient.
The use of ceramic tile allows the building to twist and turn the way it does. The flexible material is made to absorb friction between units and is layered throughout the various networks beneath the sloping roof to support the jutting windows and facades that retract and push out at different levels.