Dongziguan Affordable Housing
A Modernistic Look for the Rural Housing
Meng Fanhao(partner, gad) × SPACE
SPACE: This project was led by the Hangzhou government, and fifty housing units have been provided on a site of 15,300m2 with the aim of improving the living environments of rural inhabitants. What were the living conditions like at Dongziguan village before the project?
Meng Fanhao (Meng): Dongziguan Village has a long history and profound cultural background. However, with the decline in both agriculture and water carriage, the village that has long been prosperous is now experiencing a great recession. Many traditional dwellings are in a bad state of disrepair, making it hard for the local residents to live in. Besides, several families sharing a single courtyard have added to the worsening situation. Considering that long-established living habits and customs may not follow the changes to the daily living spaces, we investigated the local residential customs and interacted with the villagers to help us devise a better living space and an appropriate liturgical space.
SPACE: Each house has been modified, in terms of the direction it faces, its front and rear, so that each house is arranged in equal fashion to touch a court that functions as a public space and to value the independent inner courts. This decision reflects upon the community-based characteristics of the countryside, while also functioning as a means to secure private space. The composition of six houses and their courts form a single prototype. Please elaborate on why these prototypes were composed in this way.
Meng: We observed a great deal of diversity and the attractions evident in the form of traditional Chinese villages, which differ greatly from the new line-up stereotype self-built dwellings in rural homesteads. To improve this negative situation, we tried to create a richness in the dwelling cluster through limited basic residential units.
The area of each homestead is 120m2. All six buildings in every block are organised along two different types of footprints (11 × 21m and 16 × 14m), all facing different directions within the homestead. Six different households surround a courtyard as a place for communal communication and participation. Thus, it forms a cluster and community as a prototype for collective living. This reacts against previous affordable housing projects where traditional modes of communal living have not been maintained.
Six buildings in every block are organised along two different types of footprints (11 × 21m and 16 × 14m), all facing different directions within the homestead.
Through the abstraction and reconstruction of the roof, the architect resolved the issue of temporality in terms of tradition, as well as the issue of regionality in terms of its rural location.
SPACE: This project would have been tasked with the challenge of using architecture to resolve the issue of temporality in terms of tradition, as well as the issue of regionality in terms of its rural location. Could you please tell us more about your design intentions and the methods of architectural expression related to these two issues.
Meng: We responded to these two issues by abstracting and reconstituting the roofs. Aside from the use of local materials, this is another way to respond. Apart from this, the organisation of the function was centred on the courtyard in a traditional way. In the design of the basic units, by organising the floor plan throughout three small courtyards, we generated three different courtyards according to three kinds of transparency. The south-facing courtyard is the most open one. The entrance to the house is characterised by the rich pooling of sunlight, and people can interact with the outside world through this hollowed-out brick wall.
SPACE: The overall budget was approximately three million USD, which means that construction cost approximately 190 USD per square metre. This is a lot less than the average construction costs for other rural areas in Hangzhou. How did you manage to achieve this?
Meng: In the construction craft, we chose the most economical brick-concrete structure, adapted the heat and water preservation roof and wall, as well as the double glazing, to improve the thermal performance of the houses. Traditional timber structures were applied in the bounding walls and cornices. The contrast between industrial and man-made structures adds to the richness and sense of depth in construction craft and presents the variation in texture of the architecture of the Yangtze river region.
SPACE: We are curious to know to what extent this project might reach, from the aspect of providing and expanding a standardized design for rural housing. Do you have any specific plans?
demonstrational villages of Hangzhou, and many villages nearby have been imitating our project in Dongziguan Village. At the very beginning of this project, we thought that only of achieving high-quality at low cost, so that we could promote it to other rural areas.
Each house has been modified, in terms of the direction it faces, its front and rear, so that each house is arranged in equal fashion to touch a court that functions as a public space and to value the independent inner courts.
gad is an innovative design studio which aims at breaking the boundary of traditional building industry . It’s based on architecture design and it emphasises on crossover thinking. It practices both in cities and rural areas. By paying attention to social hotspots, responding to the contemporary culture, adhering to the critical thinking and adapting the working strategy of theory and practice combination, it expects to achieve the boundaryless integration of urban planning, architecture design, interior design, products, project operation, landscape design and cultural and creative industries.
Meng Fanhao is the partner and design director of gad Design Group Co. Ltd. He is a national first-class registered architect, and a senior engineer. After his graduation as a master from the School of Architecture and Urban planning, Nanjing university, he practiced in both cities and rural areas. During his investigation in architecture, he thought critically and paid special attention to social hot spots as well as contemporary culture. In his works, he tried to seek the feasible balance between responsibility and attitude, requirements and experience, modernity and localization, sociality and professionalism.
This kind of generation shares the logic of the traditional village clusters and and has made it possible to promote this kind of design to more rural areas.
Architect: gad Design Group Co. Ltd
Project partner: Meng Fanhao
Design team: Zhu Min, Zhu Xiaocheng,Li Qiang
Location: Dongziguan Village, Fuyang, Hangzhou, China
Site area: 19,277.6㎡
Building area: 7,170.61㎡
Gross floor area: 15,286.98㎡
Building scope: 3F
Building to land ratio: 37.2%
Floor area ratio: 79%
Structure: reinforced concrete
Exterior finishing: paint, stone, Chinese style blue roofing tile
Interior finishing: paint
Structural engineer: Hu Damin, Qian Luxi,Ni Weijie
Construction: Hangzhou Changfu Construction Co.,Ltd.
Mechanical engineer: Cui Daliang, Zhang Yueqiang
Electrical engineer: Wang Yang
Design period: Sep. 2014 – Mar. 2015
Construction period: Apr. 2015 – July 2016
Client: Changkou Town Government in Fuyang District of Hangzhou
edited by Park Semi | photographed by Yao Li (unless otherwise indicated) | materials provided by gad