Dong’s House Restaurant is located in one of the largest and best preserved historic areas, the Pingjiang District, Suzhou. Previously, Dong’s House was a typical courtyard residential unit belonged to a big family. After several decades of overuse and negligence, it has been degraded into bad conditions as many other houses in Pingjiang District. Dong’s House Restaurant was launched by the local government as a sample renovation project to transform the declined residential and factory block into restaurants and bars, with a purpose to promote the river street into an attractive area for tourists.
The Dong’s House Restaurant project was confronted by two challenges: to preserve the historic urban fabric, and to update the decrepit dwelling to respond to contemporary urban life.
According to the condition of the existing buildings, the site was distinguished into two parts: The southern part was the traditional courtyard housing which needed to be physically preserved. The northern part was a small factory to be demolished and rebuilt. The new building was designed to provide a space of modern sense among the preserved buildings. A coffee bar with spiraled floors going up every 40cm to the roof, which became going-up indoor and outdoor terraces and allowed the visitors to enjoy the beautiful skyline of the river street. The new building was coated with a piece of woven dark brick wall, through which the visitors could have an open view of the surroundings from the interior. And a solid boundary was provided by the building to define the open space along the river in the daytime, which could also act as a lantern in the evening to render the specific atmosphere of the revival of the historic district.