Shi You Shi Wu

Beijing, China | Design H(ij)ack | Beijing Design Week

Kai qiang da dong, meaning “to open a hole in the wall”, was a common practice which small business owners would take down walls illegally in Beijing’s hutong areas to create a large access to their shops. Since spring 2017, the facades that were previously modified without approval were gradually being bricked up by the government, as part of a city-wide beautification project. While the hutong streetscape is being unified, this construction effort inevitably puts pressure on the shop owners, as many have reported a significant drop in their sales due to reduced street frontage. While construction is still taking place across the city, some storefronts are being privately modified again to adapt to the situation.

 “Shi You Shi Wu” (十有十无) is the name of a set of standards to bring back the picturesque hutong alleys. The title of this art project is also “Shi You Shi Wu” (时有时无), meaning “sometimes showing, other times not”. Our design team is interested in exploring other possibilities that would restore the traditional hutong streetscape and minimize disruption to the shops at the same time. With practicality and a sense of humor, the design of this modular installation suggests an alternative that can be easily produced and widely deployed in other hutong areas as a response to the current situation.


Project in collaboration with Xin Liu, Chenyu Sun, and Miranda Wang.