- Client: Yincheng Group
- Construction Drawing Collaboration: Nanjing Yangtze River Urban Architectural Design Co. LTD
- City: Nanjing
- Country: China
The housing shortage in big cities. Nowadays, living in big cities is quite expensive, which has already become a global social phenomenon. It is more and more difficult for young people in big cities to own their own residences. Across the world, shared apartments have become one of the answers to settle the problem of housing tension. In London, some shared living brands, such as WeLive、Haven、Common、Ollie、Lyf, and Quarters advocate preserving private bedrooms and sharing kitchen, gym, cinema, and laundry room to maintain a lower rent level. In Manhattan, the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, waived some zoning regulations and authorized the construction of the first micro-apartment building of New York—— My Micro NY, as a new model for affordable housing to provide more micro-apartment buildings that young people can afford. In Nanjing, “Yincheng Kinma Q+ Community” will make some new explorations and strive to create an affordable home for 940 young people who pursue their future here.
The current isolated situation of the site. The project is located in Nanjing Qixia district and is near the Jinma subway station. And the shape of the block is a highly irregular pentagon and makes a sharp contrast with sprawling suburban land around. The north of the land is a racetrack, which is already closed, and now it is used as a temporary parking lot of an automobile sales enterprise. The west is Jinma road where cars moves rapidly , and the south of the site is a residential community in brown painted façade, which is separated from the site by a wall.
As an isolated island separated by a fast lane and a wall, the project is a typical suburban block because it lacks supporting facilities and public activity space around it. In such an isolated site, “Nanjing Yincheng KinmaQ+ Community” needs to create its own appeal and the necessary intimacy for residing and living between a huge plot ratio of the youth apartment and the small size room type.
Design strategy: maximization of private facilities and centralization of shared facilities. In general, living space is made up of functions of receiving guests, making entertainment, dining, having a rest, utilities, and so on. Smallness and fullness is common strategy. When the living space area shrinks, the corresponding functional areas will also be reduced by proportion. However, as the price has increased, the total area inevitably reaches a critical point. At this time, synchronously reducing the areas is no longer a valid option because all the single functional areas are so small that they can’t fulfill their missions.
The strategy of smallness and fullness becomes bad. Our goal is that the design retains the freedom of the behavior of tenants as much as possible and achieves their own interests within the budget rather than minimization. And the solution will be divided into two parts: the necessary private facilities and public facilities that satisfy the social attributes. Private facilities should be maximized to ensure the tranquility and customization of private life and public facilities should be centralized to achieve maximum functional fullness and high efficiency.
The strategy of Maximum. The maximum of private space｜In terms of the absolute scale and experience of living space, a compact function, and suitable area are better than a complete function and the restricted area. It will decompose, refine, classify and separate the living function of the building even cancel the part of the dining function and set them up as public social centers. In the private area, keeping the maximum core functional area is an effective strategy.
The maximum of the unit facade lighting area｜Private space is only 3.6 meters wide, as the only side of ventilating and lighting, facade resources are very precious. The point of the facade design is to maintain the maximum window area for each space. The logical choice is all exterior wall areas should be left to windows except for some areas where beams and columns are essential. The design deliberately avoids composition, so the facade appears naturally in the functional requirements.
The strategy of Centralization: “The Central Terminal” as the social hub. The reason why we consider the social hub as a terminal of an international airport is that it owns all the important features of a terminal, such as it is located in the suburbs, available 24 hours a day and brings the intimate emotions of meeting and parting. Embedded between the three towers, the social hub is the main foyer and public space of the entire building. It works on three different elevations: the departure hall on the ground floor, the arrival hall on the lower level and the rooftop terrace which provides outdoor leisure space.
The departure hall has three departure gates and each leads to the three-tower foyers. As a necessary passage for the whole project, the hall provides Wifi, coffee, a tea room, a restaurant, and a gift shop. The interior of the hall is bright and open, providing a space for guests of 940 “flights” to stay and socialize. The arrival hall is connected with the underground parking and it has two sunken green garden courtyards in the north and south, which brings the sunshine and fresh air for the underground hall. The central public area of the arrival hall is the grand staircase and the multifunctional stage space. The underground hall is the core of the public area for the stairs and multifunctional stage space. Passengers entering from the parking go to the departure hall through here and meet their friends. The more private logistic service functions are around the core public area.
People can come to the roof from the departure hall by a spiral staircase. The roof provides an open-air bar and becomes the most popular social space for young people during good days and cool nights. On an isolated land in the suburbs, the social hub makes every day a warm experience. The residents go back home at night, friends meet and part here, the social hub can help young people solve some challenges that they are facing, such as the loneliness of working alone, the need for friendship and the network. At the same time, it makes members become a part of the shared economy and realize sustainable development goals of architecture.
The minimalist facade: get rid of all unnecessary designs. Tighten the grid strictly to create wholeness｜The first rule is that all exterior wall areas should be left to windows except some areas where beams and columns are essential. This rule sets up a very strict orthogonal network for the facade of the building. The second rule is that under the dual restrictions of building height limit and plot ratio, two of the three towers in the site adopt 4.8m storey height, and the third tower adopts a mixture of 4.8 meters and 3 meters, which increases the functional volume. Meanwhile, the vertical difference adds an unnoticeable change to the orthogonal network.
The colors and gradients of the materials create wholeness｜In the messy urban environment of the suburbs, the new building should have a clear outline. Five different lightness of green aluminum plate covered on the 3 towers in the form of overall fading, making an overall and active effect. People can see this “green house” at the first sight when they arrive at the subway station or drive through here. Looking from nearby, in the grid which is made up of green aluminum panels, the large bevel glass reflects the sky from different angles, which seems delicate and premium.
Invisible air conditioning machine: reduce the elements of the façade. There are 2000 air conditioning machines on the facades of the three towers in the community because of the existence of numerous independent units. The usual air conditioning units not only block the lighting but also affect the appearance. The air conditioning position is set with occlusion louvers, further emphasizing the presence of the device, which becomes the nightmare of architects.
The air conditioning machines of “Nanjing Yincheng KinmaQ+ Community” rotate 90 degrees and the near-outlet louvers are positioned on the side of the recessed windows, and the front and rear double panels also create efficient quality of ventilation for the air-conditioning unit. At the same time, the area occupied by the front of the air conditioning is greatly reduced, which increases 12% of the lighting area of each living unit. The facade of the building gets rid from the ambiguity of louvers, which further enhances the sense of solidity of the building.
The undesigned part: 940 possibilities of life. Back to reality, what did we create on the lonely island without supporting facilities and public space of Qixia District of Nanjing? We designed the infrastructure on which 940 units could rely and everything that urban life should provide. And a 24-hour illuminated terminal and its services and facilities make sure everyone can use the area of the unit to achieve their own interests freely. It is this freedom of action that gives us all the strength and courage to start again.
This reflects the essence of the design more or less. That is the most important part of the building is not necessarily designed by the architect. The diversity of life exists all the time until one day it is banished by an improper design. Architecture should not try to design life, interfere with life, and bind the possibility of life. Architecture should increase the freedom of life, which is also the original purpose of our design for youth apartments in big cities.