Courtyard House Redesign

This project began with a study of the relationships among nine family members in Ang Lee’s film, “Eat Drink Man Woman.” The film depicts how a reticent father uses cooking and dining as a means of communicating love to his three daughters. Conflicts ensue as misunderstandings escalate, for communication mainly limits at the dining table. The characters in the film typify traditional Chinese values of filial piety, familial hierarchy, and emotional reservedness accompanied by modernity in 1994. A rectilinear form rigid in structure, traditional Chinese courtyard house or “siheyuan” mirrors traditional sentiments of suppressed emotions and social conformity. However, the narrow alleyways or “hutongs,” formed by the small spaces between siheyuans, usually encourage lively conversations and encounters. Inspired by the film and siheyuans, I intend to break the hierarchy of the traditional courtyard house by introducing curves and narrow pathways that create intimate and private interactions among family members.