LocationChangning District, Shanghai, China
Lead ArchitectsYing Wang, Yuxin Ni, Yufeng Lin, Ellen Hu
Text description provided by the architects. The house we renovating is located in a townhouse residential area built in the 1930s of Shanghai. All the residential houses in this community are in brick and wood construction, and the inside volume and outline of each building are identical as well. There are many excellent buildings preserved in Shanghai during the Republic of China, however, these residential houses of this district are lacking in both design and construction quality. More than half a century passed, each generation of residents in the community has shown a variety of appearances as the internal structure and the facade changed a lot. By redesigning and reconstructing, we want to create a residential building that is independent of the surrounding environment in terms of visual and lifestyle.
This three-story house has 30 square meters each floor, plus a small garden of 30 square meters. It is a very small residential house. The original internal structure of the house is very complicated. The space planning is chaotic, the connection of blocks is not comfortable and it wastes the limited space resources. We completely empty the interior of the house, and redivided the vertical structure, building the floor with stairs.
Although each floor has limited space, we still design the space open to below on the second and third floors. In this kind of way, the closed vertical space is released, and more light coming through space. Overall space becomes transparent, the connection between the upper and lower floors has been made both in sight and in live interaction.
In terms of storage space, we abandon the form of movable furniture and use the space structure and functional blocks of the house to design. For example, the integration of the storage cabinet on the first floor with the kitchen operating area; the use of the negative space under the stairs; the combination of the roof level and the wardrobe shape. These simple and practical design, not only maximize the utility of the space but also meet the designer’s minimalist design philosophy. The design process of “When attitude becomes form”(Harald Szeemann) becomes the spatial skeleton of dividing the functions and blocks.
Glass, white oak and travertine play a major role in materials. Glass ensures the transparency of the space; white oak gives the modern and calm atmosphere with a warm texture; the natural texture and color of the travertine bring the sensibility to the rational space. We let these materials appear in the right place and at the right frequency and make space look clean and simple through reasonable blanking.
In this project, we use more light strips supplemented by a small number of spotlights to set off the minimalist space lines, creating a quiet atmosphere At the same time, we also redesign the facade and outdoor space. Instead of those decorative stone bricks and old wooden windows, we paint the simple white walls and install the insulated glass window that has better sound insulation. The original outdoor brick and preservative wood floors, bushes are replaced with flat light grey granite, grass, and a pine tree.
This is our first attempt to design a minimalist style. Tadao Ando said, “The essence of Minimalism is simplicity, but simplicity without depth is merely cheap, it is not enough. Behind the minimalist design, there are often rich connotations. Under the premise of ensuring texture and taste, through the simplification of spatial logic, we hope to create a functional and comfortable entirety and to show an ambiguous boundary between beauty and practicality through this most general design language.