The Jiaojiehe House

Our own Jiaojiehe House:

Jiaojiehe environs:

Jiaojiehe is a small village just beyond the Great Wall, north of Huairou, in the mountains north of Beijing.  If you are into Google Earth then try entering 40 27 60.00 N, 116 35 45.00 E into "Fly to". (See map below.) Yuehong first took me there in May 2004. It was love at first sight and within a week we had agreed to buy and develop a small property. It was probably a good decision. Since then property values in the village have rocketed, building materials are nearly 50% more expensive and the Yuan has appreciated. This is the final result, it is an oasis of tranquility in a very large Chinese desert, we shall miss it horribly when the times comes to go. Coincidentally, it happens to be the best investment I ever made which is one reason why we won't live here for ever.

We started the project in the early Summer of 2004. The design went through a number of changes. We are very grateful to professional architect (Nancy) Huang Nannan who did a lot of work on it and made the drawings. I have to say that it ended up rather bigger than we had originally intended....

First the original house had to be demolished - it was the only sensible decision. Other traditional houses remain in the village, although whether any will be conserved in the long term is another matter. Next the foundations were laid and the shell erected by local villagers in the late Summer and Autumn of 2004, under the capable supervision of Yuehong's father Mr. Chen Guoliang, a retired civil engineer who insisted the building should be earthquake proof! The roof was erected just before the onset of winter 2004-5 and the whole project hibernated for some 5 months as planned.

Progress through summer 2005 went in bursts not least because many of the workers came from rural Shandong and had to go home to deal with the harvest - the villagers were involved in a local government reafforestation project. The pictures give some idea of the changes made to the site in the 18 months from start to finish.

The original house seen from south-east, it was May 2004 and all the trees in the village totally green:

By September 2005 things looked more than a little different:

In late November 2005, the wall above dividing the 'kitchen garden' from the 'vegetable/fruit garden' was demolished, creating entirely new views; this one from a slightly more southerly position with the house essentially complete in December 2005. Of course the trees are bare as it is mid-winter: All the original fruit trees have been kept and one flowering shrub moved safely inside the new garden.

The original kitchen

The new kitchen

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson