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Thursday, October 25, 2007 - 19:30

The Renovation of a Courtyard House in Bell Casting Lane: An Odyssey with a Happy Ending

Mrs. Barbara Muench

The Portuguese Embassy

Architect Barbara Muench has renovated, modernised and partly rebuilt a traditional courtyard house near the Drum Tower, in the old centre of Beijing.

Mrs. Muench will take us through the challenges and frustrations of home renovation in Beijing – “A Year in Provence” transposed to China. She will describe the problems she encountered from the acquisition of the house until the end of the construction period: conservation issues, legal and technical questions, building standards and building quality, coping with the Beijing bureaucracy, and the search for traditional building materials and old building techniques. Just as interesting as the technical challenges were the social insights into the lives of workers and neighbours during the year the renovation took place. Mrs. Muench will present her courtyard house as a case study but will also talk more generally about the conservation of the historical city centre of Beijing.

Mrs. Muench has been a guest researcher at Tsinghua University. She has taught as an assistant professor at the Technical University Berlin and at the Beijing University for Civil Engineering and Architecture. Her research focuses on urban development, including urban design and urban sociology. She has contributed to various books and magazines and has worked as an architectural consultant for foreign companies in China.