Most of the buildings in Baitasi are single storey pitched roof buildings. There are also a large number of sheds constructed in courtyard spaces. The site visit was organised by the competition team and participants were requested to not visit the site on their own. That came as a surprise to me as the competition was introduced to speak about the community and but direct engagement with the community was in fact discouraged. During the conversations with the organisers, it became clearer that the direction of the area’s development has already been fixed and as participants, the proposed functions of the new buildings should follow the list provided by the organisers.
Following the competition organisers around the area, one of the first places that comes in sight is the Baitasi office. This has been the venue for exhibitions and interactions during Beijing Design Week since last year.
Walking through the 12 courtyards, the living conditions within the courtyards become increasingly clear. Most of the interiors are crowded – rooms are small and many have double decker beds in them. The current conditions of the courtyards vary from completely empty, abandoned to occupied.
The buildings on site are mostly brick buildings. Some are proper traditional buildings while many others are simple brick sheds. Talking to the organisers, it was clear that any buildings with historical value need to be properly conserved while any others can be demolished.