Excerpt: A white house is a residence designed by the firm RIGI Design. The residence is designed on the basis of creating small pockets of life. Having seen so many houses, the only concept we believe is that a person cannot be stuck with a settled life, whether in the house value or style. Skylight and staircase are designed to be the centre of the architecture, reshaping the whole logic and form of this 3-story building. With punched holes, the steel stairs can bring in light. The stairs go upward around the natural light patio from the 1st floor, extending the whole house vertically around the light.
[Text as submitted by Architect] LIU KAI and RIGI designed this white 3-story residence in a common Shanghai old-style lane. There are plenty of similar buildings in Shanghai, which is not new and located in a naturally-formed block, carrying the memories of this city.
The original architecture was completed in 1947 and consisted of 3 floors, 5.5 meters in width and about 15.2 meters in depth. It faces south and has entrances on both sides. Due to the complicated compartments and deep depth, the overall indoor lighting was terrible. As it was built long ago, part of the building structure needs to be repaired. We also reinforced the whole architecture and unified the height of the entire building. The staircase on the northern side was torn down. Skylight and staircase are designed to be the centre of the architecture, reshaping the whole logic and form of this 3-story building. With punched holes, the steel stairs can bring in light. The stairs go upward around the natural light patio from the 1st floor, extending the whole house vertically around the light.
LIU KAI and RIGI designed a semi-opened area on the 1st floor that blurs the indoor and outdoor boundary. After reconstruction, the original isolated courtyard has a new connection with the 3-story space. The semi-outdoor area adds enough warmth to the living room. Sunshine, plant, interior, exterior, and blurry boundaries allow spaces and life scenes to switch freely. A hole is reserved in the courtyard, where to plant a tree in Spring, which could accompany the kids to grow up – time is also a part of our design.
On the 1st floor, the sunlight living-dining room and the kitchen are designed as a whole space, where the family spend most of their time together. We hope this space belongs to every life scene instead of being defined by functions. We designed a modular furniture wall called “life board”, which can be decorated or assembled with accessories in diverse ways and is life-changing. From this point of view, we hope the future form of the design could be gradually shaped by daily life.
On the 2nd floor, the door and the storage space are hidden behind the wall, which creates a clean and complete area. On sunny days, it will be a warm family space. The kid’s bed, desk and storage space are connected through our design. The kid likes the house, climbing stairs, and playing in the courtyard, which is also our design’s original purpose – to bring a bigger world to the kid, allowing him to know about the changing world from another dimension.
Following natural daylight, going up along the steel staircase, we can see modified skylights, vertical lighting windows and pure outdoor space. This is the area we changed most. The whole building starts from light and vertical space. For the main bedroom, we kept the slope structure of the original building. We unified the cloakroom and the toilet into a box. This retained the original architectural form to the greatest extent and created a new connection in the actual space, which is not big.
We want to design something carrying beauty and happiness. There is not so much joy in life, and our life is filled with small happiness. What we love is not to possess good things or luxurious furniture but a self-made life on our own. Having seen so many houses, the only concept we believe is that a person cannot be stuck with a settled life, whether in the house value or style.
A house is not equal to a home. The home belongs to our family and us. A house is like a container to carry our growth, experience and hope. And design brings more tolerance into life. The city where we live and work is not perfect, and there are even some disordered traffic and a lot of garbage, but it is not an obstacle for us to design a warm house. This is a house of the 1970s, witnessing the lives of generations. At this moment, it seems to be reborn.
This is the meaning of our life, to be better.