Modernity and history meet in Dongzhimen 8 building

LED-ridden highrises, neon signs, or a riot of sparkling colours, all the semblance of modernity are supposed to be entailed in the popular criteria used for assessing how developed a mega-city is.

However, these iridescent delights could possibly thin down the genuine attractiveness of a metropolis that boasts a duality of ‘Modern vs Historic’, and this city is Beijing.


André Fu embarks upon his first foray into the ultra-luxe market of Mainland China and his first project is Dongzhimen 8 in Beijing.

Its historic heritages arguably weigh much more in attractiveness than modernity does. They could be either regal or folkloric – The Forbidden City, Hutong valleys, the residues of ramparts and fortifications dating back three millennia – if you would feel like seeking more approachableness from this city, then these locales will not be missed.

In his book, André Fu: Crossing Cultures with Design, André indicates that he has “an inclination towards interlacing his designs with a quality of locality. Investing the regional and cultural peculiarities with the design, for him, is a process of refinement, and redefinition as well.”

Dongzhimen 8 is rich with history. Dongzhimen was the East Gate of the Beijing city fortifications which was a transportation node since Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) and now is a prosperous commercial hub in Beijing. Because of its 800-year history and notably 8 being auspicious in Chinese numerology, 8 becomes an integral part of Dongzhimen 8. In particular, Liangma River (1368 – now), sending off an aroma of ancient history, encompasses it, serving as an aquatic vista for the residence.

Dongzhimen 8 can undo the rigid dichotomy between urbanity and hermitage. It cannot be uprooted itself from the urbanity though, so one side is the hectic street, and it can be a Peach Blossom Shangri-la in a peninsula, the verdant and tree-y Moors in a suave manner, then the other side, it is an ecosystem friendly zone.

There is also an avoidance of implementing an avant-garde design in Dongzhimen 8, as the studio focuses much more on making a coordination between elements. Residence is as genuinely individualistic as a person and its personality basks in the reflected glory of the occupants and culture signs.

André includes mortise-and-tenon joints in the entire design. It is an oriental story to unfold. In stark comparison to brick-and-stone structures, wood texture is an enabler to lighten up the atmosphere redolent of the Chinese tradition.

Also, the use of colours are the key. By utilising balanced shades and brightness, André made various palettes release a sense of elegance and reservedness. Design is, practically speaking, not something of montage, it is more like interwoven stuffs wherein culture expressions, through a certain symbol of colours, more often than not, is enacting a crucial role to fortify the texture.

There’s a quote from Eero Saarinen, ‘The purpose of architecture is to shelter and enhance man’s life on earth and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence.’, André’s commitment as an architect is constructing an ennobling addition to Dongzhimen to have it radiate out a perceptible duplexity of history and fashion. It cannot be denied that potential buyers and occupants will definitely be graced.

Images via Life Group & AFSO

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