Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects

Text description provided by the architects. Haiyan Ke Tang is located in Haiyan Village, within the Dian Lake National Tourist Resort in Kunming. After the closure of Haiyan Primary School in 2008, a simple warehouse structure was erected on the playground, which became a public dining space for villagers to hold wedding and funeral banquets, a tradition locally referred to as “guest hall” or “guest affairs room.” An invitation from the Dianchi Art Season 2024 prompted the renovation and upgrade of Ke Tang. For Haiyan Village, on the one hand, its unique geographical location and the breathtaking, ever-changing sunsets and twilight skies have made it extremely popular post-pandemic—a longing for equality and public access to waterfront spaces, triggered by the sublime celestial landscapes, seems to reflect the beautiful life by the side of Dian Lake as recorded by Du Tianrong in the 1960s.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Exterior Photography, Facade, Windows
Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Interior Photography, Dining room, Table, Bench

On the other hand, it is also representative of many common villages in China: the juxtaposition of buildings from various eras creates a compressed view of time, and the unique climate and customs of Yunnan provide conditions that allow for the neglect of airtight thermal control, resulting in more unrestrained construction methods. When these records are put together, they naturally form a study on the “depth of canopy”: it is precisely the economy, convenience, and temporariness of “canopy” that brings effective occupation of space for a certain period. The non-facility strategy of mending and altering becomes an initial point in discussing the renovation and upgrade of Ke Tang.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Image 23 of 35

Therefore, the renovation goes hand in hand with repurposing the old. Necessary upgrades and purchases are made for parts involving structure, sanitation, and operational zoning. For example, leveling the kitchen roof structure, replacing the entire roof, adding exhaust and oil separation equipment, replacing overall lighting fixtures, etc.; adding outdoor canopies, and standardizing some of the kitchen area’s traffic lines to prevent guests from passing through. In terms of materials and objects, as much as possible, old items are reused and refurbished. The flue, earth stove, and most of the wall tiles, floor, and furniture are all refurbished on the original basis, or simply patched up.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Image 27 of 35

The original corroded roof of Ke Tang’s main hall was cleaned and directly stabilized with a rust converter. Throughout the process, the economy has been the key factor in measuring this series of operations. Generally speaking, local guest affairs last for three to five days, and it is economical and convenient to hold banquets in Ke Tang. Over the years of use, a team formed spontaneously by the villagers has developed a complete set of procedures with a clear division of labor and orderly operation, capable of calmly handling banquets for seven or eight hundred people. This loose and continuous temporary work model, the so-called “living together with a difference, each with its beauty,” may be the most touching aspect of Ke Tang.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Image 13 of 35
Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Interior Photography, Table, Chair, Beam
Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Image 33 of 35

The remaining parts will also be the most subtle adjustments—whether it is to open up the kitchen walls, expand the eaves, and feel the lively atmosphere of cooking and cooking together; or to introduce natural light into the hall, complemented by lighting, to experience the happiness of being together under the same roof without an empty seat; or in the front yard, to collect plants, organize signs, and continue the village’s custom of keeping flowers in front of every household. This attunement strives to unleash the potential of the space, much like the final tuning before a performance. More accurately, it is they that allow the counter-experience to be reflected, resonating with the memories of the past.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Interior Photography
Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Interior Photography, Table, Chair

After the opening of the Art Season, the renovation work of Ke Tang has also come to a temporary end. The renovated study library and Haiyan Health Clinic, which are part of the original school building, will soon be put into use, and the remaining blank spaces will gradually be filled. Given time, we look forward to the Haiyan Ke Tang becoming an expression of local convivial life.

Haiyan Ke Tang / Yanfei Architects + Elepheno Architects - Interior Photography, Kitchen, Table, Countertop, Chair

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