The project is located in an old residential area in Huzhou City, a family of three, young couple, a 3-year-old boy, an American Shorthair cat and a Golden Retriever of about 40 kg. The owners are a gentle, cheerful and talkative couple who enjoy a peaceful, quiet, free and comfortable spatial state. They moved from the 200 square metres high-rise house they were living in to a 59 square metres one-storey house with a courtyard, where they hope to get close to nature, get away from the hustle and bustle, and enjoy a slower pace of life.
The neighbourhood is secluded and surrounded by mature amenities, very smoky. The houses are located on one level, east side of the home, and the south side of each home comes with a yard. However, almost every house has added roofs to the original yards to incorporate the interior for use. On the outside of the homes' yards is a small open community park, where adults, children, and the elderly are often seen talking, playing, and exercising when the weather is nice.
The original layout of the house was a traditional two-and-a-half-room house, with the original entry unit door located on the west side, connecting to the living-dining area, although it was hardly used. At the time of the site survey, we entered through the courtyard entrance on the south-east side, which had been used by the previous owner as a temporary dining room, bathroom and utility room through the wall, which directly led to the living room in the centre and the bedroom on the east side being a dark room with no direct light. Walking straight from the living room to the dining room area in the centre, the scale is very narrow, the dining table and chairs are placed close to the kitchen and bathroom side, surrounded by doorways, the space is broken, and there is almost no storage; the children's room is located in the easternmost side, the room is high and narrow, and living in it is like a well with a turn of distance.
At the beginning of the design, we collected and communicated with the owner in detail about the basic information, functional needs and living concepts. Firstly, we need to solve the living problems of all members of the family, the dog's outdoor living space, the two indoor bedrooms, and the cat's living space (eating, sleeping, daily activities, toileting, etc.); secondly, because the male owner is engaged in music, he hopes to have a small arranger's workstation at home, which is used for daily creation. The living and dining space needs to carry the family's dining, leisure, bookshelves, storage, parent-child interaction, electric steel playing area and so on. Kitchen and bathroom space, wet and dry separation, whiskey wine cabinet, in addition to the desire to have a housekeeping room, for the placement of washing and drying machines, sweeping robots, dirty laundry storage, and so on.
How to maximise the use of space in very small homes? How to harmonise the relationship between open and private spaces? How to create the pleasure of living under the function? These are the questions we need to think about.
When we communicated the design, we agreed with the owner to remove the roof of the original courtyard addition and open it up to the outside world. We hoped that in this small site, we could reconstruct a microcosm within a small building, a space for dialogue between human and natural elements, where the occupants could feel the sunshine, the air, the wind, the rain and the snow.
The owner chose a house with a courtyard on the ground floor which has a large part of the reasons, hoping to provide a free and comfortable home for the dog, it is obvious that it is very inappropriate to build a separate dog house in the courtyard, which occupies the space and affects the aesthetics, we thought about whether it is possible to create a continuous space, so we made use of the restored balcony space, masonry wall along the underneath of the beams, and poured in place a platform, dividing the upper and lower space with two heights, the upper as an indoor space for use, and the lower as a dog kennel to the outside world, the storage of dog's belongings is also more than enough, and at the same time, the people indoors and the dogs in the courtyard can also produce interactions.
We took advantage of the difference in height between the interior and the courtyard to design a sunken entrance, where the bricks of the courtyard floor are paved to the interior entrance, creating a connection between the interior and exterior, and extending the living space towards the exterior. The male owner likes rainy days, so we added a section of gable to the courtyard that can let in both light and rain, so that he won't get wet when he comes home on a rainy day. The ground outside the gable is sunken, so that the rainwater will be collected here and then drained away through the ground pipeline. When the weather is fine, the sunlight passes through the verandah and penetrates into the interior, making the light soft and quiet. The relationship between the interior and the courtyard is softened by the excessive space of the veranda, and you can sit under the eaves and enjoy the relaxation and pleasure of nature, whether it is a rainy day or a sunny day.
Age-old house, especially the former staff house, with the continuation of life, family size increase, storage can not meet the demand, so many people will choose to borrow part of the wall space to do embedded storage, such as in the entry foyer, living room TV area, bedroom and so on. We also found a lot of them in this old house. We recorded the location and size during the survey, and found that on the side of the original master bedroom's open door, there was a wardrobe with a scale close to the door and embedded in the wall, and this condition provided us with new ideas to open up the space.
According to the conventional layout, the front and back of the split, left and right separation, functional parts of their own independent scattered, can not be connected, can not achieve the function we need. And the area is limited, most of the walls are load-bearing walls, and can not be removed, the operation margin is very small, we envisage whether there are overlapping with each other but do not destroy each other, so we use the original embedded wardrobe, opened the exit, and do the second reinforcement of the steel structure, occupying a small portion of the bedroom area, to create a transition buffer space between the various functional areas, will be the different functions of the tandem, the whole house produces a A sense of depth, openness and wholeness is also guaranteed, which is more colourful than a flat hallway.
We analysed the site situation and switched the functions of the original living room and the original bedroom space, the two spaces are similar in scale, the original bedroom space is closer to the entrance, which is more reasonable and convenient to be used as a living room; the bedroom needs more privacy compared to the living room, so it is placed at the furthest distance from the entrance of the yard, so that it can be accessed directly to the living room from the entrance after coming home.
In the living room area, we designed a set of multi-functional storage cabinets with the original window holes, to solve the collection of daily book display, living supplies storage and electric steel placement, so that the outdoor scenery and indoor light naturally merge, and to provide the occupants to enjoy the fun of spatial expression change. After opening the new channel on the side, the doorway of the original bedroom is not closed, but a set of horizontal long card holder is used to make it a window for the whole space to connect and interact, creating more white space.
The original dining area was small and difficult to utilise, opening a new doorway compressed some of the bedroom space and gained the freedom to access the multi-purpose area as well as the kitchen from the living room. The original bathroom was not separated from the wet and dry areas, we set back part of the wall to select the dry area from the interior and combine it with the exterior space. As the owner cooks less at home on weekdays, he chose an open kitchen. By placing a set of large Z-shaped furniture, we combined the dry area, cat toilet space (automatic cat litter tray), open kitchen, housekeeping function and wine cooler in one, dividing the space through the cabinets and separating the space from the rest. Because of the small size of the space, the height of the furniture does not go to the top, only reserved enough to pass the height of the people, so that the space has a vertical richness and sense of hierarchy. The large furniture is far less in volume than the building volume, but in function and form, it is like a miniature building, each function needs to be arranged in a reasonable and orderly combination, while also taking into account the occurrence and change of the relationship with the surrounding space and human behaviour.The white area above the Z-shaped large furniture has logically become the cat's living space, and the downpipe that was originally in the bathroom is revealed as the wall recedes, we chose to wrap it with twine, so it becomes the living space for the cat. chose to wrap it with sisal rope, so it became a cat climbing frame.
The smallest room on the north side is used as a children's room, with a length of 2.1 metres and a width of 1.8 metres, less than 4 square metres, and a floor height of 2.7 metres. We eliminated the negative feeling of this small and lofty room by elevating the floor and integrating all the functions into a single design of furniture to make full use of the space for sleeping, storing clothes and studying independently, while keeping the overall design simple.
While the master bedroom gives up an area of a corridor to the public space, it also defines three functional spaces in the interior by setting them at different heights, and each function, though in the same space, does not disturb each other.Firstly, you enter the combined function area of the arranger's workbench and the secondary purifying clothes, turn around and go up three steps to the sleeping area of the bedroom which is at another height, through the sleeping area and then go up one more step to the relaxation balcony, which is also the highest height of the interior, standing or sitting here, you can interact with your family and dogs outside, the view is through the courtyard wall, forming a long and high horizontal line between the wall and the eaves. The view through the courtyard fence creates a long, high horizontal line of sight between the fence and the projecting eaves, eliminating the hassle of daily life in the neighbourhood, but also providing an opportunity for intimate dialogue with nature in this gap.
We have always taken nature, city, neighbourhood, street, architecture and then the interior part as a complete perspective of the design. More important than designing the space, it is connecting the relationship between people. Home is actually more like a kind of miniature community. Through this renovation, we hope to create a residence that is both open and closed, quiet and lively, and fully integrated with nature, community and family's emotional connection, so that each other can find the joy of life.