Located on the ground floor of an old garden house in Shanghai, this U-shape room with a full-faceted semi-circular window facing the backyard. Like many other 1930’s houses in French Concession in Shanghai, the house was originally built and inhabited by one bourgeois family, then occupied by several families. Each family was staying in one room and share the common kitchens and bathrooms on the other side of the corridor. After many years of living together, the poor hygiene condition and lack of privacy getting more and more unbearable and families moved out one after another in recent years.
In this project, Atelier Tao+C seeks to explore the potential of living in a 42 sqm single room within an outdated house. The architect inserted a huge composite piece of furniture or a micro “furniturisation” architecture into the room. With the original wall, windows, and ceiling intact, a geometric volume constructed of maple plywood occupies a large part of the room, forming a free-standing internal structure.
Built into the depth of the volume, the structure embeds all functional requirements – accommodating shower, kitchen, closets, bookshelves, steps and conversation pits. Through an intense carving out of volumes and a densely layered composition, the free-standing structure creates different niches, nooks and divides up activity spaces – dining room and living room.
The top of the “furniture” serves as the secondary floor, which accommodates the private spaces. The mattress is embedded in the plinth to form the bedroom; the desk is stretched at the corner to define the study. By opening up floor partially, the design team creates a conversation between the two levels. Two different paths enhanced the connection – a wooden staircase leads from the living room to the bedroom, and a thin metal staircase that connects the study to the dining room.
There is no partition wall in the room, allowing the light to brought deep into the room. The ground floor paved with red tiles which are commonly used in public parks in Shanghai extends from the outdoors to the interior creating a continuing landscape.