Thursday, 26 April 2007

Beijing: Courtyard House sells for Record Price

A courtyard home in Beijing near the picturesque Houhai lake has sold for a record 14.2 million dollars (110 million yuan) earlier this month.

A courtyard dwelling, or Siheyuan in Chinese, is an enclosed atrium house, a type of residence most famously found in Beijing. Courtyard houses are also called hutongs or hutong houses while ‘hutong’ in Chinese means only lane or alley.

As Chinese people consider the hutong houses as not modern and their inhabitants as poor, many are being destroyed to make way for modern apartment buildings. However lots of foreigners would love to live in a renovated courtyard home. A renovation includes the installation of water and electricity supply. Otherwise you would need to use the public toilets in your hutong (lane). But often the houses are not easy to access through the small lanes. And it is not easy to find a suitable and affordable one.

A few courtyards are being converted into luxury residences. The Houhai one was sold for 36,324 yuan per square metre, almost double the average price of residential properties nearby, the Beijing News said. A local property developer had been trying to sell the courtyard home since late 2005 after fixing it up but few people expressed interest until early this year, it said.

Last year I was invited to one of these luxury courtyard homes. It was renovated and decorated in a modern yet cosy style. The tenant had inherited some Biedermeier furniture and added modern and Asian elements. We had a BBQ in the garden at night and the whole house was illuminated. Some months later I recognized it right away when I found these pictures in a magazine.

All three pictures are from Better Homes and Gardens magazine in China (issue no. 8 - January 2007). The residence contains even two hutong houses with two atrium. The bigger one was the main house. All single elements were connected with a corridor of glass (last picture). If you want to walk from the kitchen to the bedroom you could either walk inside around the atrium through the corridor or you could walk outside across the atrium. The second smaller atrium belonged to the guest house. The renovation was time consuming and expensive although the former resident denied the latter. Today he does not live here anymore. So I guess this beautiful hutong house is empty at the moment. What a pity. But even more pity is the uncertain future of this beautiful house. It was saved from demolition once. But the neighbouring homes are already gone.

The record selling price of the Houhai courtyard house was featured in That's Beijing (7 Days in Beijing - Today's Alarming Statistic of April 20); and in Yahoo News.

See also my other post about Beijing Courtyards


Ian said...

What a beautiful home, Beijing will caught up to New York soon!


Chiisai said...

Wow, beautiful. I wish more houses like these existed today.


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