the project is located in an old historical district of shanghai, for more than seventy years, being the the sole living space for three generations. today, thanks to design practice HDD,  it will be served as a brand new apartment for the youngest couple of the family – with a limitation of 35sqm



one of the predominant features of the building is the triple height ceiling, in which HDD blends the spatial quality of a chinese garden – with full richness – into such a small apartment. this approach indeed transforms the interior complexit, creating a dynamic moving experience within the project. ‘in the most of traditional chinese gardens, the space is quite limited, so one should find a way to squeeze all natural elements into this small plot. there are several techniques be used in chinese landscape design, which could also be implemented into interior design. ‘seeing grandness through smallness’ is one of the most important techniques; one should experience much bigger spaces in such a small plot,’ notes the architect zhang hai’ao. 



in this project, many movable doors and furniture are used to transform the apartment from a closed form to an open one, creating a much more lively setting within a small scale. people could see different things simply by walking along the space; this effect is called ‘moving by seeing’ in garden designg. hence, all rooms become only a fracture of the whole experience, offering a holistic opera experience altogether. the strategies of ‘winded walking circulations’ as well as ‘borrowing views from outside’ are also heavily implemented in the layout. 



furthermore, ‘the story of the western wing’ – as one of the greatest operas of all time – is also introduced in the project. for instance, ‘TING’, meaning pavilion in chinese, is recreated in the top of the space, becoming a social area for chatting and relaxing. ‘Tai’, meaning podium, is created for the living room, providing a TV and other entertainment systems. finally,’Shui’, meaning water, indicates the entire walking experience in the apartment.



all in all, the project is an architectural mixture of the traditional chinese garden and modern city life, projecting the relaxing old fashioned landscape design into the fast-pace life of today’s chinese metropolis


project info:

project name: vertical garden _ chinese garden meets ultra compact apartment 

design team: hdd (shanghai huadu architecture&urban design co.,ltd)

architect: zhang hai’ao, li di

structure engineer: wang guoxun


location: shanghai
area: 35sqm
period: 2017.04 – 2017.08



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.


edited by: lea zeitoun | designboom

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