Reborn From Ruins (Residential House) by Ray Jin
2017 - 2018, Golden A' Interior Space and Exhibition Design Award Winner
The project is situated in ChangGe Village, Daxing County, in southwestern suburb of Beijing. The place had no water supply nor a restroom– its residents, a senior farm couple, needed to walk out 100 meters around the house to get to the closest loo in the neighborhood. The house's long but narrow courtyard facing south functioned as a pathway for the family's only transport vehicle, a three-wheeler, which was inconveniently parked in a dead end. Even worse, interior floor elevation of the house was almost 20 centimeters lower than the courtyard, turning the house into a flooding pond whenever it rained, a safety threat to the entire building structure. Ironically, the area was troubled by water shortage – water gets cut off almost daily, sometimes during peak evening hours.
The remodel project was one episode of BTV's live television show series called “Our Warm New Houses”, newly rolled out earlier this year. The show producer set up specific but stringent requirements on cost and construction speed. Design and construction needs to be completed in 45 days. All-inclusive budget is capped at 300,000 RMB (about 45,000 USD), including labors and materials on field work, site remodeling, interior construction, lights and fixtures, furniture and interior decorations, even purchasing new home electronics.
Design Challenges
To solve the core water issue, our architectural design process thoroughly considered the challenges of both water shortage and flood control. First, we elevated the interior floor, adjusted exterior courtyard ground level and installed new sewer and gutter systems. In addition, a new water tank with a capacity over 2-cubic-meters was built at one end of the courtyard, to harvest and recycle rain water collected from the rooftops. In the evenings when water gets occasionally cut off, collected rain water could be used as a supplementary water source for toilet flushing or to satisfy other essential needs, for up to a year. At the same time, with water drainage now in place, the building structure stands strong even in pouring rain.
Production Technology
Inside the house, by custom, the locals particularly dislike windows on the north wall, so we have carefully accommodated this by moving all the storage function to the north side of the house, while taking the daily activity function to the south side where it is also better lit. As the house layout takes the shape of a narrow rectangle, with the long side oriented north and south, the middle part of the house is better suited as a common area. It also separates the resting areas for hosts and guests, allowing for better privacy. After elevated the floor for flood control, the building height is only 2.1 meters. So we removed the suspended ceiling, to allow for more space. Then, after some cleaning and maintenance work, the original wood structure and straw-covered ceiling texture is finally revealed, telling a story of time.
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