MDes Interior Design School of Design

Wenfei Gao

Wenfei Gao, BA of Beijing University of Technology, MA of Glasgow School of Art. Throughout my MA career, I have tried to re-examine contemporary design with experimental and critical thinking, while using speculative design and imagination to influence my own designs in real life, trying to find another way for traditional culture to exist in the future. It is believed that every material culture reflects the region, but this is not limited to creative design, but to design with a more open mind.


Based on my years of study in Beijing, I find that Beijing is currently facing a lot of hutong demolition and many architects are working on Hutong reconstruction, but I question the straightforward antique of the materials and facades. Therefore, I am thinking about how to analyze and evaluate the cultural elements of Hutong, and how to use the space language to retain these elements in the future, to explore new ways to preserve the memory and culture of the past in the rapid development of society.


Through the study in GSA, let me review the current domestic development and existing problems from another new angle. It was a challenge and a discovery to try to answer the questions that puzzled me in my own way.



Hutong Memory- 2030

Hutong Memory- 2030

This research portfolio will focus on exploring which material culture in Hutong is worth preserving and how to use the space as a medium to witness the history of Hutong material culture to continue to play due cultural value in the future.The aim is to provide a new way to preserve the material culture of Hutong by collecting the material culture of Hutong and transforming them into thespace language.

The structure of the research report is divided into three parts. Firstly, I collected the material culture in the Hutong, and then selected the cultural elements which are worth to be preserved by establishing the evaluation criteria and test the feasibility of the elements in the spatial model. Then analyzed, deconstructed, and recombined those elements that were selected to form a new space block. The resulting space blocks are then used in the fifinal space design.


After analysis and evaluation, I selected 15 elements to be used in my work. As a kind of cultural material representing Hutong identity, these cultural elements are regarded as a kind of cultural symbol to convey the hidden cultural meaning in the society. These symbols constitute the unique attributes of Hutong architectural space, and architecture is also a part of semiotics. I used deconstruction to analyze the hutong space and these cultural elements, breaking them down, cutting them up, reassembling them into a three dimensional volume, which is then combined with individual volumes to form 16 complete functional spaces.

Elements Collection

I collected some elements of Hutong culture.

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria used to assess whether the cultural element should be retained.

Example- Evaluation Criteria

cultural elements

I used clay to simulate cultural elements and then glued them to the wall to test their reusability in space.


The element that comes out of the evaluation.



Space Blocks

The elements are deconstructed and reassembled into 45 spatial volumes.


The project presents a framework for a future life that envisions people living in the future with the material culture and memories of Beijing’s hutongs in an alternative way. In the world of urban desertification, population explosion, society development, a lot of hutongs have been demolished, preserving the important historical culture is the challenge facing humanity today.It is time to rethink how material cultures representing a group of People’s collective memories and sense of identity can be reactivated across time and space in the future. By transforming the material and cultural elements of the Hutong into the spatial language and shaping the functional zoning, the work was used to design the spatial connections between future buildings in Beijing. Different architectural forms existing in different use scenarios, according to the use of the crowd, the spatial blocks of solid space is combined with the spatial blocks of holographic image, and the spatial blocks of holographic projection makes part of space become “evolutionary architecture”. In the formation of a new functional space at the same time telling the cultural history of the past. The goal is to create awareness of new design strategies for future cultural preservation.



Hutong is the place of People's daily life, there are many ordinary but memorable things, I anticipat-ed the activity of the Hutong and the future activity of the space.

Elevation& Functional Partition Map

Space Blocks

Each functional space is made up of volumes that imply its characteristics.

Example- Play Music

Floor 0

Work area, library, convenience store, rest area, sports area, afternoon tea area, folk activity area.


Residents can read and rest here.

Working Place& Convenience store

Sports Space


Afternoon Tea

Floor 1

The area has a square, exhibition area, fishing, express delivery area, people grow their own vegetables.

Exhibition Space

Painting and photo exhibitions about traditional culture to help young people learn more about traditional culture.

Playing Chess

Music+ Swing Space

People of different ages can use the space at the same time and have different activities.

Talking Space

The talking space is next to the market space, where people chat during their leisure time and after shopping.

Market Space

Here people buy daily necessities, such as vegetables, food, flowers and so on.

Express Delivery Space

People will become more dependent on online shopping, so express transportation will also become more convenient.