bojing qu solves shanghai urban sprawl with rotating plug-in capsules bojing qu solves shanghai urban sprawl with rotating plug-in capsules
jun 04, 2014

bojing qu solves shanghai urban sprawl with rotating plug-in capsules

bojing qu solves shanghai urban sprawl with rotating plug-in capsules
all images courtesy of bojing qu




for his master of architecture graduation thesis from politecnico di milano, chinese architect bojing qu has proposed a series of rotating plug-in capsule apartments for shanghai. the design began with the observation that thousands of young people flood into the mega city as urban sprawl increases every year. it becomes urgent for them to survive with a limited amount space and higher housing rates. consequently, the idea of a rotating apartment has been conceived to produce a living system enclosed by a light gauge steel structure that can quickly be produced and assembled on site. individually, each capsule is made up of two main parts: one is a rotating component that involves the main daily living functions such as a living room, bed room, and dining room, while the other is a fixed module that contains the subsidiary functions such as a kitchen, toilet, and storage room. this system challenges the minimum living dimensions of human beings and multiplies the space available to them simply by rotating.

bojing qu shanghai urban sprawl rotating plug in capsules
the service (toilet/kitchen/storage) spaces can be fixed, while the sleep/entertainment/ work spaces can be rotated




each capsule is attached to the main core tower, which provides vertical circulation. these towers are then connected to one another via corridors through the capsules. these rotating apartment towers are located on the old site of the 2010 expo in shanghai where they can grow throughout the years to meet the expanding population of users. meanwhile, the open public space provides commercial and service functions for younger people on the lower floors. this rotating apartment’s community will create a unique and unprecedented way of life which will maximize the use of space and minimize the use of money for future generations.

bojing qu shanghai urban sprawl rotating plug in capsules
exploded axonometric view of a capsule 

foldable furniture for a rotating capsule

foldable furniture for a rotating capsule 

plan perspective view 

section perspective view 

daily life in one capsule for a girl 8:00-10:00

daily life in one capsule for a girl 11:00-13:00


daily life in one capsule for a girl 19:00-21:00


exploded axonometric view of one building



project info:

site: shanghai, china
school: politecnico di milano
tutors: professor oliviero godi and professor diego terna
special thanks to architects: rochen wu and qian he



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

  • clever

    dbkii says:
  • Fun until the pod next to you wants to rotate at the same time which would mean each corner of the pods would hit each other… I see some room has been left between the pod so they can actually rotate at all but this also eats out of living space and usable space. Do you hammer the dining table to the roof? and if so where do you store everything when it is not in use? So this leads us back to the fact that we are humans not bees and there are much better options than this. The pod building in japan works as it is for overnight stays… not long turn living. Lastly if this is about density what is with all those vast empty green spaces on ground level, the modernists tried this years ago and it proved a failure. Another concept that hasn’t been thought out.

    bob the builder says:
  • Does a human needs to be a bee? who can be a queen? ha ha ha

    sung says:
  • innovative and practical with an appealing design.. two thumbs up
    seems like the talented architect thought through every step of his project (including the contemporary rotation phase)

    from the sprawl of Sabbioneta to the one in Shanghai ..

    molon says:
  • A clever and quick solution to temporarily house thousands of new immigrants flooding into crowded cities. For energetic workers, students and even young couples this is far better than what they get right now. Again, key word is “young” and “temporary”. Good thinking.

    Ben says:

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