South Room Fisheye

Those familiar with our constantly updated building plans might also be aware of the plans for the South room. Looking from the point of view of Sketchup, this south room evenly fits in two identical small bedrooms with adjacent bathrooms. The reality — and CAD image — however, shows a completely different story; one that was ignored until today. As of now, the walls and foundation are in place. A lot happens overnight! A cursory glance at it shows that if these are both supposed to be wonderful bedrooms with attached private gardens, then aside from beds, they will not have space for much else! Two solutions can be taken at this point: Either the foundation wall separating the garden area moves in by up to 40cm to make the rooms bigger (and gardens smaller) or the main wall separating both rooms comes down, turning it into one extremely large room with an equally generous garden. We have nearly instantly decided on the second option. Recovering the lost room will be a job for another day. The idea of having two rooms minimized but functional doesn’t bode too well for us.

Youngcall wondering why the rooms suddenly look so small

Walls going up around the foundation on the south room

Making use of the walls

When everyone’s busy, Mr. Guo’s little boy has to find ways to entertain himself. Having a yard full of bricks and pipes, glass and dirt everywhere sometimes does have its advantages:

Can’t say for certain who the little boy on the right is though. They said he’s a neighbour’s son, but he seems to spend all his time on our worksite.

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.

No cameras

Unfortunately we had hoped to have live feed of everything posted on our main page. Couldn’t get that working so we resorted to frequent surveillance cam updates. Still, we put up the wrong camera and the footage was worthless. Perhaps we’ve given up on showing much photo evidence of the destruction process and have set our sites on getting things working for the full construction… we’ll see.

For now maybe we will get some photos thrown up soon from regular camera or two.

Where to strike

The first question we get nowadays is ‘how much work will you do on the place??’.

Outlined with fancy Chai labeling below is our current layout showing the buildings that stand right next to the red shaded buildings that will no longer be in 10 days time.

Somehow, in that short time period 30 trucks will be required to come into the city and move out all the garbage and rubble. I suppose the answer to the above question is: A lot of work.

What a mess!

So if you’ve made it this far, you know it’s true. All of this is happening within 10 hours. You also might know that this will soon be a hotel. However, if you look really closely… extremely closely — you simply notice a big mess!

If you had spent a good part of the year wandering through hundreds of other properties like this, these messy areas with laundry strewn about wouldn’t weaken the imagination one bit. As a result, it’s always the same problem of an incredible let-down during each visit by friends in the last few weeks. Without any of us try to add to the hype, the sheer fact that we have selected this site means that we are more than impressed by it. So when someone makes a visit, they have to try hard to conceal their amazement of our delusional insanity.

It is not insanity though, it is a highly effective algorithm for predicting financial success based on the total area of the property combined with the accurate position of the stars.

Thank Eva for the photos: