Brick House

W house – east reading room © Iwan Baan

Based on local courtyard houses, the design evolved from the interaction of two brick houses (W house and Y house) with the surrounding landscape.


Terracotta bricks were made from local clay with local knowledge, composing the structure and façades.

W house – section © AZL architects

W house – section detail © AZL architects

Skilled village construction workers very familiar with the medium were able to facilitate the marriage of traditional savoir-faire with new and progressive design.


Y house – floorplan © AZL architects

Y house – section © AZL architects

Y house – section detail © AZL architects

Three different textures of brick skin make up the façade.


An interlocking pattern leaves perforations between bricks, and protruding bricks cast shadows along the wall.


W house – brick wall © Iwan Baan

Windows punctuate the texture, and the brickwork along the edges of these portals further develops abstract geometric relations while remaining loyal to the structural logic.


Relying entirely upon local materials and workers, the project was able to be built for the unusually low budget of 80 euros per sqm.


Y house – living room © Iwan Baan

The client is a famous poet in China, and invested much time into the process and worked in cooperation with the architect.



  • project > Zhang Lei / AZL architects
  • project team > Zhang Lei, Shen Kaikang, Zhang Ang
  • collaborator > Gaochun Architectural Design Office
  • location > Gaochun, Jiangsu Province, China
  • program > single family houses
  • dimension > 860 mq (W house) and 580 mq (Y house)
  • cost > 80 €/mq
  • chronology > 2006 – 2008
  • photo credits > Iwan Baan

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