The latest in efficient hutong-living in Beijing is a “plug-in” house from local firm People’s Architecture Office (PAO). PAO’s plug-ins are modular, prefabricated structures that outfit an existing home with extensions and other amenities, like an accordion door or a new overhang, providing additional space with minimal construction. They also provide energy efficiency on par with new builds.
Instead of buying a new apartment in a high-rise, the client chose to renovate her childhood family home in the neighborhood of Changchun Jie with a plug-in instead—for a thirty times less than what it would cost to buy new. PAO created a custom plug-in for the client by adding a new kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The architecture and design studio accomplished this by creating a white geometric and angled block and attaching it to the front of the short, brick structure. It even adds new height to the living area, which features a skylight that floods the previously dark home with plenty of natural light.
The plug-in also adds a private bathroom in an area that has no public sewage system, which means that residents must use public toilets. But an integrated off-grid composting toilet system allows for the client to have one in the privacy of her home. It, too, is illuminated by a skylight. A roof deck provides additional outdoor space for the client and her family.