The first time we came to Chongming Island was the early spring of 2017. Our job was to transform this site and those old houses into a community center for cultural activities with Jiangnan-styled architectures.
▼傍晚时分鸟瞰，Aerial view at sunset ©田方方
There are residential buildings located at the west side of the site, and the existing building on the south side is the administrative service unit of Houjia Town. The east side is adjacent to river while the north side is next to the farmland. There are five different houses in the site from west to east. Built in different periods, those houses are not arranged in the same horizontal positions with uneven heights. There are also various problems with the houses such as subsided foundation, cracked walls and roof collapse; especially the two houses on the east side are quite dilapidated. There are four old camphor trees in the center of the site. From the original tap water factory in the east side of the trees sees the remaining water tower in the distance.
▼改造前场地鸟瞰，A bird’s view of the site before the reconstruction ©空间里
居民的文化生活|Cultural life of the residents
▼乌镇回廊下的生活场景，Slow life under the cloister in Wuzhen ©王少榕
As an island for sustainable tourism, Chongming Island’s major industry is agriculture and tourism. Most of the young people have lefe the island for a new life while the remaining residents are mostly middle-aged and older people as well as children. We envisage that the community center will also be a community park where the residents will gather there to drink tea, have a chat, read books and newspaper, paint and do calligraphy, workout, sing and dance and more, creating a sense of belonging for them.
▼改造后场地鸟瞰，A bird’s view of the site after the reconstruction ©田方方
屋顶掌管着建筑的美|The roof speaks the beauty of the architecture
The roof is an everlasting element of the building, significant and the most important. It keeps the residents from sun and rain, bringing comfort to the residents. The shape, material and proportion of the roof leave strong visual impact. At anytime and anyplace, the roof speaks the beauty of the architecture. When I was a child, I lived in an old house. There were a lot of gray spaces among the eaves. In the water towns of Jiangnan water towns, I saw the living conditions of the residents under the cloister alongside the river. When I was in Japan, I experienced sitting under the roof of the traditional Japanese architecture and taking a rest while checking the courtyard out. I also visited the open spaces designed under one roof by architect Geoffrey Bawa in Sri Lanka. Those experiences make me feel the daily charm of the living spaces under the roof.
▼清晨时分的文化活动中心，In early morning ©田方方
▼屋檐下的空间中包含着一种日常生活的魅力，Feel the daily charm of the living spaces under the roof ©田方方
形式和材质|The form and materials
The shape, scale and structure of the existing house are very typical in the local area. We have no intention to totally get rid of the local style of the building; based on this, we develop the roof with the wooden structure. The spatial scale is close to the residential building. As for the outer wall of the building, we have several issues to consider: the span of the appropriate wooden column as well as the size, proportion and structure of the wooden rafters and purlins, to meet the needs of structural mechanics. While following the rules of functionality in sync with the form, we also hope that the residents will perceive the oriental style out of the building instantly.
▼在水塔下看建筑，the building under the water tower ©田方方
▼从篮球场看建筑南立面，The south façade of the building from the basketball court ©田方方
▼从广场处看多功能剧场和卫生间，The multi-functional theater and the rest room from the square ©田方方
长长的遮阳伞|The single-columned cloister
Our design put an emphasis on the eaves along the slope of the existing building with the height of the cornice pressed to 2.3 meters. The porch created by the eaves becomes the connecting part of different buildings. Till the river in the east side, the porch turns into a cloister. The porch is a great space for people to talk, take a break, and have a view of the surrounding scenery. The south side of the house faces the open area for activities, and the north side is the backyard enclosed by walls. We also design two corridors leading to the backyard.
▼檐廊下看篮球场，The basketball court from the porch ©田方方
▼多功能剧场和卫生间之间的过廊，The corridor connecting the multi-functional theater and the rest room ©田方方
▼多功能剧场前檐廊，The front porch of the multi-functional theater ©田方方
▼图书室和展览室之间过廊，The corridor connecting the reading room and the exhibition room ©田方方
▼图书室前檐廊，Porch in front of the reading room ©王少榕
The riverside is the passage to the wind. Looking at the pristine scenery from the river bank is a pleasure, and it is also the best place to get away from the heat and take a break. The design of the single-columned cloister is inspired from outdoor umbrellas. The large roof with a length of 20 meters and a width of 4.8 meters creates the space for the porch. The column structure sandwiched by the two pillars with wooden beams effectively resists the lateral wind force with good stability. Meanwhile, the structure is visually lighter and thinner compared to a single wooden column of a larger cross-section. The design of the single-columned cloister minimizes the structural elements on the façade, making a more transparent and open outdoor space.
▼透过独柱回廊看河畔，The riverside from the single-columned cloister ©王少榕
▼从独柱回廊看广场，The square from the single-columned cloister ©田方方
▼独柱回廊下，The single-columned cloister ©田方方
天窗的光线|Quality light from the skylights
The porch brings opens up a semi-outdoor space, but at the same time it blocks the lighting of the windows in the south side, so comes the design of the skylights. We intend to create a bright interior where lights can be turned off at daytime. The natural light will do most of the job to light up the space and more sunlight will illuminate the room with warmth in winter. At the same time, how to avoid excessive sunlight which will interfere with indoor activities also put into consideration. The solution is to use frosted glass to have light scattered into the room. In addition, the wall is coated with Hemp lime, filling the space with soft light.
▼多功能剧场，The multi-functional theater ©田方方
▼阅览室，The reading room ©田方方
▼手绘一层平面图，The floor plan of the 1st floor ©空间里
▼手绘二层平面图，The floor plan of the 2nd floor ©空间里
Project name: Community Center for cultural activities in Houjia Town, Chongming Island
Property owner: Chongming District Government, Shanghai
Design Studio: Studio Ku Kan Nai
Project type: public building
Location: Houjia Town, Chongming Island, Shanghai
Chief Architect: Wang Shaorong
Design team: Zhao Jun, Tang sujing, Li Meng, Ji Saihui
Photographer: Tian Fangfang, Wang Shaorong
Structure: masonry-concrete structure, wooden structure
Site area: 2970㎡
Floor area: 898㎡
Design Cycle: from February to September, 2017
Building cycle: from December, 2017 to August, 2018
Structure design: Shanghai Tonggu Structural Engineering, Co., Ltd.
Electromechanical design: Beijing Uni.-Construction Group Co.,Ltd
Construction unit: Shanghai Yingfa Construction Engineering Co., Ltd.
Project management：Shanghai Jianjin Construction Engineering Consultation Co., Ltd.