After years of contemplating expansion options in Beijing, a unique site in a most fantastic area (by our standards) became available. Construction began in May 2014, with an opening scheduled for early 2015. This is an active construction site at the moment, so pictures and commentary will go up in a fairly delayed fashion..  But please stay tuned, and feel free to email us any questions or comments along the way.

Walls coming up!

The walls are now showing up on the new east building.

Mr. Guo surveying some of the work

Mrs. Guo helping to shovel

North-east building’s new private garden!

Laundry room is now up, behind the garden

View from above

Expansion and foundationing

So a decision has been finalized to remove our massive tree, but when this can happen must depend on the landlord’s connection with the city management. It is not so easy to take down a tree, legally.

In the meantime, trenches have now been dug around the area of the tree to lay both the foundation as well as the sewage system. Every few hours someone is asking us when the tree will be gone so they can continue with the foundation work on the other side.

A byproduct of this tree removal will also mean the enlargement of the ground floor indoor space (and thus the second floor terrace space as well). Of course the space must come from somewhere, and it will essentially mean a smaller central garden. No worries though, it is still going to be plenty nice, and green.

Foundation being put in, brick by brick

Foundation setting..

Such a dead tree

Our biggest setback yet has just occurred. Against all logic and that which we all consider sane, the landlord’s 27 year old son has unbeknownst to us peeled off a large 30cm tall ring of bark off our wonderfully tall tree. Starting this morning, nearly all the leaves have either dried up or fallen off. The place looks as though autumn has hit early. More likely we should do a heavy metals test in our water system to see if a high amount of mercury was the underlying seed of his amazing stupidity. Apparently he did this a month ago to help us ‘move’ the tree. So smart he is. The tree is only now beginning to show the effects of his actions.

What will we do? In our state of shock we had workers cover it with clay to at least seal it off from parasites. However, the damage is done and the likelihood of the tree recovering is almost certainly nil. If we don’t have any better ideas we will cut down this great 30 meter Chinese aspen and attempt to replace it with a 4-5 meter tall paulownia tree in the next few days. Not quite the same, but the new tree is a fast grower and at least looks a lot better than the aspen.

Better to be a forest than a tree. What loss one dead tree gives can hopefully be countered by the multitude of smaller trees we plan to plant in its place. Beyond the paulownia, we have plans for several smaller trees in the North courtyard and several of the gardens. It will be green no matter what.

Inspecting the damage

Covering it with clay and doing a tree dance.

A big view

That was quick. Overnight the newest and best built building has fallen down. We now own a lot of red bricks which will certainly have a place in the new structure. All that remains to be done with the old building is level the base of the southern half of the property by 0.5 meters and take apart the south-west room. Once that is done, we can pull down the fake outer wall, taking with it the neighbouring restaurant’s micro-warehouse. We are leaving that until the last moment for ultimate surprise effect.

For now, revel in vast openness of The Orchid and the awesome destruction which has taken place in less than one week.

There once was a building here. Now the wall supports all the electrical boxes until we learn where else to put them..

Youngcall and Siu Ming standing in the future garden along the southern edge

This yellow wall and doors is all that keeps the restaurant staff at bay. Since we left the door open for a few minutes a couple of old dishwashers have wandered in to watch. 25 meters beyond the door is the main road.

Such a big yard

In the blink of an eye, the entire mid-section of zijianfang, the junky and poorly constructed buildings not actually registered on the title deed have disappeared. In their place are one giant pile of bricks, old fully greased-up kitchen finishings, worthless nicknacks sitting in center of the yard, and four whole truckloads lying either in the main hutong road or by now trucked far outside the city.

Still one and a half destruction jobs to go. The city is going through some political changes this week as two of the wealthier inner-city districts eat up two of the poorer ones while all the heads of these new mega districts get replaced. As a result, three days of special inspections are taking place, which will prevent people like us from moving rubble outside our property until each evening. It isn’t supposed to make much sense, but maybe it is supposed to slow us down.

Still — hopefully by Monday we will cross the bridge towards bringing bricks in, rather than out.