How we live and how we aspire to live may be two completely different scenarios. While in Hong Kong we often entertain in the restaurants and hotels with ambiences that reflect our aspirations, residences in Beijing are more generous and enable owners to realise their aspirations right at home. For a couple with three children, elderly parents and a helper living in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, their 510-square metre (5,490 square feet) townhouse allows for a distinction between spaces for entertaining guests and spaces for the family to relax.

The first and basement levels of this townhouse feature a sunken courtyard dominated by bamboo. “Being with nature has always been Chinese people’s pursuit for their dream house,” believes Dalian-born Han Wenqiang, founder of Beijing-based Arch Studio. “In this design, the courtyard is an inseparable part of the whole residence; the relationship between the interior and exterior was our main consideration. For a natural feel, the walls of the sunken courtyard were wrapped with wooden vertical slats. The bamboo forest and pebbles on the ground embellish the space. Its wooden slats were repeated throughout the home to demarcate interior spaces, creating a sense of the outdoor courtyard inside.”

More than half of the home is devoted to receiving, entertaining and housing guests; all the permanent residents live on the second storey with a central living and dining area separating bedrooms and bathrooms. “Actually, the owner bought two apartments; the lower floors are similar to a small private club, and there are three guest rooms,” says Han. “As they have frequent visitors, there are many spaces to receive them, such as a tea room, living room and study. There are two dining rooms: one with a round table for 10 to 12 people and one with a rectangular table for six people. The owner asked for some basic requirements, and the wooden furnishings were custom made for this project.”