Innovation That Matters

Prefab modules plug into aging Chinese villages


The Courtyard House Plugin system consists of modules that can be attached to existing structures without any destruction or special skills.

In China, the renovation costs of making old villages inhabitable is often prohibitive, due to the need to tear down structures in order to rebuild. Now, the People’s Architecture Office has developed a solution in the form of the Courtyard House Plugin — modules that can be attached to existing structures without any destruction, and assembled in a day.


As part of the Dashilar Project in Bejing, the prefab modules are currently be used to renovate a historic commercial street. The system — consisting of light, inexpensive panels — enables people with no special skills to construct house-within-a-house structures on existing properties. The self-contained panels incorporate insulation, wiring, plumbing, windows and both interior and exterior finishes. There are a range of plugins, including some with sliding doors and others that have septic tanks. The parts snap and lock together with a single hex wrench, providing a new home or office space at a fifth of the price of building a new courtyard house. This module is especially useful in courtyard neighborhoods where one part is still inhabited and another needs renovation.



Where else could the Courtyard House Plugin system be used?



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