Qhouse is one of the small homes in a villa area in Qingpu, Shanghai. The original plan of the villa shows the living room separated from the main interior space, and the previous owner later integrated the small courtyard between them into the house, but due to the original structural walls, it was still a dim place that could not be used effectively in despite of the glass roof. Meanwhile, there was an extended glass room on the east side of the living room facing the courtyard.
The house was located in the middle of the site, and the courtyard was pushed into four long and narrow green areas around the house, and due to the internal walls blocking the views, both the internal and external space lack a sense of clearness and transparency.
If the house is conceived as the extension of the garden, and the garden is the extension of the house, the house interior will form a similar spatial pattern with the garden. To achieve such an ambience, the original spatial pattern of the house need to be renovated to create new programming and living scenarios.
First, the previously scattered domestic rooms on the ground floor need to be reorganized and pushed to the sides, leaving a large space connecting the north and south, which can be regarded as an internal "garden", a public living area outside the rooms. In this "garden", the remaining structural columns and the new reinforcing columns form a void center, as if a "pavilion" is placed into a large garden. The "pavilion" is located at the original small courtyard area. With skylight, it becomes a "light pavilion".
The client is a nuclear family, the husband owns his own business, the wife is homebound, the son is in primary school, and additional family members from both sides will be coming to stay occasionally. Based on the family structure, we have three possibilities for this "light pavilion": a family room, a kid’s game room, or a study. In order to create the family atmosphere and recognize the master's role as the pillar of the family, we decided to make the ‘light pavilion’ as a ‘Study of Light’ after discussing with the client. It is the physical center of the house according to the spatial pattern, and its functionality makes it the center of the family in the spiritual sense as well.
In Suzhou Gardens, paths and views are often separated and unsynchronized. We can see directly from one point to another but often need to make a detour to reach the other point, and during the process of detour, we can explore various scenes and spatial layers created by the interactive design of solid walls and window openings. This feature is well represented in the Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan), which is very fascinating. In Qhouse, we also want to design a space with more interesting paths and views that enrich the experiential layers for the domestic ambience.
The foyer is an independent bright space, with the entry facing a french window, behind (to the south) which is a small outdoor courtyard. On the east of the courtyard is another window, allowing for an interchange of views between the home and the foyer. To the east of the foyer is the actual entry door with a circular pane on which the family can sense the arrival of visitors through the projection on the window.
The ‘Study of Light’ is located on the horizontal axis of the entryway formed by the foyer and the passage. In order to maintain a 'pavilion' -like void, the west, east and south sides of the study are designed as openable panes that, when opened, allow the view to penetrate directly to the other side of the garden. It is the presence of the study that demonstrates a richness of living experience and spatial hierarchy on the viewing axis. When the pane closed, the room becomes an undisturbed reading space. With such a setup, family members have the choice to keep each other undisturbed or sight-accompanied by their family.
In order to obtain a better quality of interior light, more layers and rhythmic changes of alternating light and dark, we have made a elaborate layout on this entry view axis: first a bright entrance hall, after opening the entry door the view reaches the outer wall of the study through a depressed dim passage, and the study will present two different light sensations because of the change of materials and maintenance status.
The study wall is a frame made of wood and fluted glass, essentially a container of light. Because of the nature of the glass, the interior light is weakened when the pane is closed, transmitting a hazy sense of light that changes richly with the strength of the sun and at different times of day. When its panes are open it is again a towering bright house of light, the brightest place on the first floor.
The ensuing view passes through the door of the study, beyond which the light of the family room is again dimmed by the roof. The view ends in the outdoor garden, which is bright and brilliant. With the presence of the ‘Study of Light’, the entire indoor "garden" unfolds a roaming path, with more possibilities for the family members to move around.
The roaming experience is also enhanced by the circulation between the upper and lower floors, and the dispersed layout of each room on each floor. The doglegged staircase in the original layout is released to the north, forming a single-straight stair with more light and views; the discrete layout of rooms and suites on the first and second floors are like small independent houses scattered in the garden, filled with air and sunlight between them, and a more relaxed atmosphere is obtained by such dispersion.
By reorganizing the layout, basically the main living spaces and even the bathroom of master bedroom have direct sunlight, introducing a brighter and warmer atmosphere to the home.
The main rooms are painted white as the background of the space. Walnut as the main material for flooring and furniture is the choice of the client with middle-aged taste. The deep wood color shapes a strong contrast with the white walls, and also has a nice warm color performance in the sunlight, creating a cozy atmosphere.
The vertical texture and translucence of the fluted glass is very much in line with our intention for the spatial expression and hierarchy, appropriately indicating the distance in family life and shaping the ambient mood of implicity.