Project that promotes the humble space revival program for families with distress living environments

Project that promotes the humble space revival program for families with distress living environments

Architects: wutopia lab
Location: Shanghai Shi, China
Year: 2017
Photo courtesy: CreatAR Images

“In order to help citizens struggling from distress living environments , Wutopia Lab is promoting humble space revival program, besides ‘One person’s gallery ‘, ‘The Third Eye-Micro Renovation’ and ‘House on the House’, ‘ Dianchi 100 ‘is our newest renovation project in this series. And this time, it is a public service design project.

For the sake of the city’s humble space revival program, we promised in a public WeChat Account that if the conditions are met, we can offer free rebuilding to families with distress living environments. So Ms Wang living at Dianchi Road 100, Room 202 found us through microblogging.

Dianchi Road is just 100 meters away from the Bund, which is an historical building completed in 1908 in Victorian. Before 1949 the building was a financial institution, after 1949, the government converted it into apartment buildings. Through the Building façade, we can still see some glory from the old days, but its internal is dilapidated as ruins: no bathroom, filled with debris, surrounded by air leakage…as if it is an abandoned warehouse.

Ms Wang is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and her husband has just done thyroid cancer surgery, but both of them maintain a positive attitude. They do not have any real estate besides this, for years they live in rented house. This time they wanted to move back to Dianchi Road because their child need to go to nearby kindergarten, they saw our information and came for help.

Ms Wang’s story reminds us of the weakest voice inside the city. Big cities always focus on the so-called “successful”, or try to appease the low-income class. Ms Wang’s family was seen as a middle class, struggling to survive in the metropolis and rarely complain about themselves. Little people would focus on their distress. Architects need to hear their voices and use architecture as a tool to help them.

The design itself is not complicated, but interior design is also architectural experiment. We see the interior space as two levels, the first level is the living space from the façade inward. The second level is divided into two layers, the interlayer can be separated by a sliding door into a bedroom and a children’s game area. Another layer is divided into two parts, one is an independent room, equipped with electric bed – close for study and open for sleep; one is a public corridor and a public bar area within pillar spaces.

We designed the interface of these two levels into a second façade behind the major façade and fully used the sense of permeability from four arched doors and windows. While in the season of sunlight, the inside area of the façade would look like the outside, together with the second façade, forms the space a semi-public feeling. The second level is more like a deep living box, we specially drew a red line to identify the edge of the box, the red line at the same time became a kitchen decoration. In fact, we see room 202 itself as a micro-city.

Life is firstly a pile of trifles. We developed a detailed list of functions and exquisite these features into every corner of this micro-city. In addition, we converted half of the vault of the original 0building into a bathroom, the other half belongs to the neighbor’s storage room. The kitchen, originally as a corridor was redesigned into a complete public kitchen, together we alternated the kitchen facilities. Thus the kitchen becomes a place for people to contact. The miniature city hides behind 202 room is a hint: everyone can be their own hero.

As Dianchi Road 100 is a historical protected building, we can not change the building façade, but we insisted to install two bright yellow canopies on the arches next to the street and remade the doors and windows. We hope these tiny changes of the facade would arouse vitality. The sun or the light will reflect through the yellow canopy in the arch to form golden halo, claiming its’ reborn. The golden light would also be a symbol of warmth in the evening of this desolated street.

If we only improve the living environment of the owners, this is a short-term public welfare, which can not solve the economic pressure of the family. So designed a small room with an independent bathroom on the first level, which can be shared through Airbnb to get an extra income. This room can bring the owner a monthly income of ¥10,000. This extra income can really ease the economic pressure of the owners. Through this way the architect uses design to really help the owners.

This transformation is not a solitary case, we decided to develop it into a series. By collecting all the owners like them and calling ambitious young architects, we are going to rebuild and revive those families. Dianchi Road 100 is the first project of this series.

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