Yung Ho Chang's Split House
by Giancarlo La Giorgia
Nestled in the hills northwest of Beijing, a lesser-known attraction vies for attention with a well-touristed section of China's Great Wall: eleven ultramodern villas, each designed by a top architect from China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, or Singapore.
This collection of dwellings, known as the Commune by the Great Wall, made a stir when the project was unveiled at the Venice Bienniale in 2002, both for the development's scope and because it relied on Asian designers, rather than the Western "starchitects" behind so many of China's most prominent projects.
One of the dwellings, Split House, was designed by Chinese architect Yung Ho Chang, renowned in China as the cofounder of Atelier Feichang Jianzhu (FCJZ), the nation's first private architectural firm and one of the few involved with high-profile projects internationally. Chang is also the chair of the architecture school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Courtyard on the Mountain
Poised on a steep slope, Split House is literally split in half. A short glass bridge joins its two sides, forming a V-shaped plan that opens toward the hillside.
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