reconstruction of an old abandoned house
architecture firm based in shanghai wutopia laboratory revitalized ‘suzhou section homestay’, a dilapidated former lodge, resting on the shore of taihu lake, China. the design team maintained the original U-shaped layout, designing the western facade as a section to expose the internal spatial organization. thus, the construction takes shape as a complex of pure geometric volumes wrapped in a uniform white envelope. the resulting composition appears to be half of a house, left by dividing a full yard into two separate volumes.
a cavity-like structure was the key design element. the architects decided to free up the space on the first floor and blur the boundaries between interior and exterior. the upper floors consist of six independent guest houses, designed as ‘organs in the cavity’. the different masses give the impression of hovering above the ground floor. meanwhile, the courtyard stands out from the continuous shell of the homestay, creating a tranquil space for visitors to rest and interact, watching the light pour down from the hole.all images from creatAR images
taking the form of an apparently cut section
the design team has undergone various manipulations in order to provide the final arrangement of the “section”. they adopted the lower frame seismic wall masonry structure to economically solve the contradiction between the large space required for public activities and the dislocation of the lower axis network between the upper suspension room space on the first floor. on the upper floor, reinforced concrete cantilever beams with suspended slabs were added. then, on the third floor, the exterior load-bearing brick wall was removed. the reinforced concrete slab on the roof and the outer load-bearing brick wall are connected by wide flat ring beams to help the architect achieve the effect of suspension and a space created by the outer envelope and the inner cavity on the western section. finally, when visitors enter the building from the west facade, they can get a vague glimpse of the organizational structure of the building on this seemingly cut off part.
a free-standing square pigsty was located on the north side of the original building. after the renovation, it was transformed into the restaurant’s private room. as it was complicated to visually integrate with the main building, the architects decided to use reflective stainless steel panels as the facade to make it disappear by absorbing the surrounding landscape, in order to ensure the integrity and independence of the building. main building. as for the other facades (east and south), the design team sought to maintain a sense of privacy, by adding smaller windows. however, an elongated 16-meter-long opening enters the east facade, along the stairs to the second floor. therefore, the scenery outside the window slowly opens up as the tourists move on. finally, the roof enhances the visual characteristics of the envelope and the volumetry of the entire building.
as for the interior, the architects sought to combine certain local characteristics with a touch of modernity. the ground floor evokes the tones of the surrounding landscape, favoring simplicity and transparency. “I didn’t place a TV in the room because I would like to create a calm atmosphere, color, light, a sense of closure, and a restrictive use of landscape from my own experience.” we are so rich in sounds and colors in our daily lives that we feel uneasy. I hope all external devices can be put aside temporarily. the sun will warm you slightly, the air will be a little slow and a few insects will sing from time to time. me or you can’t do anything lazily, and then get interested, why everything is silent like a mystery,’ said the main architect.
the black floor separates the second floor space, the shell and the floor to enhance the suspension experience
black volcanic rock covers the ground
covered with reflective stainless steel panels
openings cut through the continuous shell