Text description provided by the architects. Housing L is a renovation project of an office building that has been abandoned for more than ten years. The construction of the original building was never been finished since then. Located in a 4th tier city Laiyang, this kind of non-performing assets is an unpredictable result from the high-speed urbanization in China. Recently, as a series of new real estate development emerged, this building was recalled again because of its location and the expectation from the public. The rapid urban development has brought increasing housing demands. The developer expected to transfer this property into a housing. This strategy provides another possibility for urban renewal and transformation in the future.
Along the main street, the commercial spaces are maintained and renovated at the first two floors on the plaza level. The water wall and the landscape create a buffer zone between the street and the new double height lobby. Besides adding more elevators and public circulation spaces to satisfy egress and efficiency needs, the folding corner spaces on residential floors were opened up and transformed into public terraces. Directly facing the t-junction of roads, these areas were usually considered bad Fengshui in China and also because of the geometry in plans, they were not suitable for residential units. These public terraces on residential floors, similar to the traditional squares in the rural villages, serve the tenants with places for neighborhood activities.
Located at the central area of this small city, this ten-story building is considered too massive for its surroundings. To satisfy the need for shading as well as outdoor spaces for living, private balconies are added onto the south and southeast facades. It is like a veil covering the building and creating a new layer of outdoor living zone in between. It also softens the solid wall behind. Along with the public terraces on each floor, these 1.6 meter deep steel balconies transform this building with cliché decor into an urban living place. Perforated metal plates are added to the outside of the balconies at the lower three residential floors to reduce the direct impact from the street traffic. This corrugated surface also brings rhythms of colors variations to the facades under daylight. The balcony façade creates a new dialogue between the building and the city. Without modifying existing concrete structure, three types of 244 residential units (from 22 to 38 square meters) are placed on eight floors. Through the efficient zoning of living, sanitation area and the storage spaces, the compact layout of the dwelling unit makes the living space more flexible for modern urban living. All functions are clearly defined, and yet the spaces retain a sense of continuity and cohesiveness.