in china, people’s architecture office (PAO) has designed two small homes to replace dilapidated structures that had been left vacant. over the past decades, shangwei village has suffered from heavy disinvestment and depopulation. ‘the rapid urban expansion of nearby shenzhen engulfed villages like shangwei, turning them into urban villages, or rural islands surrounded by a sea of new development,’ explain the architects. ‘half of the properties in shangwei lay abandoned as villagers fled in search of higher standards of living in neighboring areas.’

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the plugin house for the huang family fits into a tiny 15 square meter space (161 sqf)
image and video © people’s architecture office

 

 

in response, the local government, with the support of the leping foundation and futureplus (a local non-profit), initiated a pilot scheme in partnership with people’s architecture office. ‘the village government is legally bound to renovate uninhabitable properties where the roofs have collapsed,’ says PAO. ‘however, such properties are difficult to renovate because any work would affect adjacent structures.’ to circumvent this problem, the design team drew up plans for two ‘plugin houses’ that leave the original building untouched while a new structure is built inside.

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the insertion acts as structural reinforcement
image © people’s architecture office

 

 

the plugin house for the huang family fits into a tiny 15 square meter (161 sqf) space. because part of the original roof still remains, the insertion acts as both reinforcement and as a protective measure against any structural issues the original house may have. to add additional space, the bedroom is placed on a mezzanine level with a corner window that cantilevers over a collapsed wall, offering a view of the village roofline. a skylight is placed where the original roof has collapsed, inviting natural light into the deep lot.

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the bedroom is placed on a mezzanine level
image © zhan changheng

 

 

nearby, the plugin house for the fang family is slightly larger at 20 square meters (215 sqf). this home features a clerestory window to bring southern light into the bedroom at the rear of the house. both dwellings include efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens, and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.

peoples architecture office shangwei village
a corner window cantilevers over a collapsed wall
image © people’s architecture office

 

 

‘the plugin house uses a modular building system of prefabricated panels,’ says PAO, who have been developing the plugin concept for some time. ‘structural connections are integrated into each panel so that a plugin house can be built with unskilled labor using one tool in less than a day. industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the plugin house remains inexpensive.’

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the window provides views of the village roofline
image © people’s architecture office

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the residence offer a much improved standard of living
image © zhan changheng

peoples architecture office shangwei village
a skylight invites natural light into the deep lot
image © zhan changheng

peoples architecture office shangwei village
an aerial view of the house for the huang family
image © people’s architecture office

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the plugin house for the fang family is slightly larger at 20 square meters
image © people’s architecture office

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the home features a clerestory window to bring southern light into the bedroom
image © zhan changheng

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the new structure is surrounded by the historic village
image © zhan changheng

peoples architecture office shangwei village
the dwelling includes private outdoor space
image © zhan changheng

peoples architecture office shangwei village
more images of the fang family plugin house can be seen below
image © zhan changheng

 

 

project info:

 

client: guanhu subdistrict / futureplus academy
location: shenzhen, china
date of completion: january 2018
huang family plugin house size: 15 sqm / 161 sqf
fang family plugin house size: 20 sqm / 215 sqf
principal: he zhe, james shen, zang feng
project team: sha jinghai, lin mingkai
photography: people’s architecture office, zhan changheng

  • This is brilliant. I think that I would consider one of the city homes to be preferable to a high-rise home in the same neighborhood. Remarkable.

    Ron Smith says:

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