背景 | Background


The first time I saw the house, I fell in love with the place, which is an old rundown house from the 80’s. It was a staff house of the Forestry and Chemical Institute. Decades have passed, people have come and gone, some have moved out and some have moved in. Now most of the people left are old people and children who go to school in the neighborhood. The house is a bit old, but the natural vegetation around it is very much alive. There is a long ramp to walk in the middle, with a plant park on one side and a fitness and activity park on the other. The house is at the far end of the ramp, just next to the red brick fence.

▼内外空间一览,inside and outside space ©吴昂


The house was built in the 1980s, according to the property staff of the Forestry and Chemical Institute, when other buildings were built to find a small piece of open space here, it just happened that the staff dormitory building allocated at the time was not enough, so the use and the corner of the Forestry University fence and squeeze out a small three-storey building, the house is located on the first floor, is divided by the fence immediately before and after the two courtyards. The northern courtyard was built shortly after the building was completed by the first owner and built an additional room independently, which could only be accessed from the outside passage.

▼客厅,the living room ©吴昂


开口 | Opening


The 46 square meters of interior space needed to carry both work and living functions. Obviously the separate room in the courtyard is the most suitable for use as a bedroom, one moving and the other not interfering with each other. The only thing is that you need to enter the courtyard from the outside passage before you can enter the bedroom. This situation is similar to my childhood, where the kitchen and the main house were two separate buildings, with an open courtyard in the middle, and there was no connecting corridor to shelter from the rain, so I could only enter and exit with an umbrella on rainy days. Therefore, while keeping the external access, I still wanted to connect them from the internal space as well. The easiest way is to open a new doorway, but how can the new doorway ensure the privacy of the bedroom? In order to make the space more transparent and visually extended, a diagonal doorway with a width of only 650mm was chosen for the entry door of the south courtyard.

▼从客厅看餐厅方向,view of the dining room from the living room ©吴昂

▼通过窗洞的互动,interaction through the window ©吴昂


The new doorway is chosen on the diagonal of the living room and bedroom, which not only visually enlarges the space, but also ensures the privacy, without worrying about “outsiders’ eyes”. This scale is much smaller than the conventional bedroom doorway, but this narrow scale will make people psychologically feel that this is a special secret passage, right, there is no harm in having a hole without a door. There is a triangular patio between the corner of the living room and the bedroom. Originally, the window openings were small in scale, which directly affected the light in the room and made the interior space seem very closed. Therefore, the scale of the window openings on both sides was adjusted around the patio in the hope that this triangular patio can absorb more sunlight.

the new doorway on the diagonal of the living room and bedroom ©吴昂

▼看向三角形天井,view of the triangular patio ©吴昂

▼透过门洞看向卧室方向,view of the bedroom through the hole ©吴昂


About the patio above, the master worker has repeatedly suggested that I directly seal a block of glass, not affecting the light and can prevent future rain and snow and leaves, and usually maintenance to climb in through the window. But my heart is eager for the wind, frost, rain and snow to come in, although sometimes annoying, but a fall, a real reminder of the change of time, their own growth and family aging, the key memory points of life and the natural beat.

▼天井利于室内采光,the patio bringing in natural light ©吴昂


The original building was a brick and mortar structure, and there was too little maneuverability for wall changes. Inside the previous doors and windows were all removed and only the original openings were retained, through which the light from the kitchen, patio and living room passed to the middle area.

▼光线通过洞口传递到到中间区域,the light passed to the middle area ©吴昂

▼看向窗外斑驳的墙体和绿植,the mottled walls and plants outside the window ©吴昂


The layout of the bedroom, opposite to the previous position of the door and window, so that the patio and the window are opposite to each other and can better meet the daily ventilation of the house if they are opened at the same time. The floor is set under the window against the courtyard wall, and a mattress is placed on it, so that the visual center of the eyes lying on the bed also happens to be facing the patio, which is a wonderful experience no matter it is a moonlit night or a rainy or snowy night.

▼站在台子上看向卧室,stand on the platform and look into the bedroom ©吴状

▼地台仅靠窗边,the platform is only near the window ©吴昂

▼从床头看向天井,looking out over the patio from the head of the bed ©吴昂

red brick wall and greenery outside bathroom window ©吴昂


台阶 | The steps


The interior flooring of the one-story house is higher than the outside, so the difference in height of the entry is created, and steps are formed as a result. The original step from the south living room to the courtyard was only 300mm in depth, and the buffer space for the door to stay open was very small. So the size of the step was increased and turned into a platform, and when there is nothing to do, I like to move a small bench to sit here and fret.

The doorway between the living room and the bedroom opens to reveal a 180mm drop. An L-shaped table was set up around both sides of the patio, with seating above and storage below, and also serves as a passage from the living room to the bedroom. Last year, we adopted a dog named “Guli”, who is also a member of this house. Finding the most comfortable corner of the house, cats and dogs are the best at this, people can not compare, their ability to find the most comfortable corner comes from animal instinct. Guli likes to lie on the two sections of the platform to sleep or look at the sky, like people, may be more longing for the free world outside.

the  L-shaped table between the living room and the bedroom ©吴昂


The third step is a step made by the master carpenter on site, hoping that the three steps of different materials and forms can bring a touring living experience by going up and down.

▼靠在台子边的可移动踏步,a movable step against the edge of a table ©吴昂


The bedroom and the courtyard also have a height difference, and the porous red bricks left over from the construction at that time came in handy, and a few of them were found to fit in quite well with the overall environment, thus forming the dusty steps into the bedroom. The steps in the courtyard are above the vegetable garden and below the gray stone floor. When friends visit, you can use the ground or hold a small bonfire party.

▼从卧室看向北边院子,the bedroom looks to the north yard ©吴状


家具 | Furniture


The living room did not place the finished sofa, small space for the finished furniture is not very friendly, so in addition to the movable bench made by the workers on site other are movable chairs and stools, which can be flexibly changed according to the actual use. Bench when necessary can be moved to the middle as a coffee table to use, usually feel that occupy space can be placed by the window.

▼站在台子上看向客厅,stand on the dais and look into the living room ©吴状


A set of 4.6-meter-long bookshelves combines the functions of the office and dining room, while a set of 4.6-meter-long bookshelves can accommodate the office, water bar, storage and laundry machine. In order to avoid the oppressive feeling of the space caused by the long bookshelves, the back panel was discarded.

▼办公区&餐厅,office area & restaurant ©吴昂


The bed in the bedroom is presented in the form of a floor combined with a mattress, enclosed on three sides, with only the end of the bed open and facing the patio. In order to avoid the sense of oppression that would be generated by wrapping on three sides, a section of breathing space is therefore left above the side closet.

▼卧室家具,furnitures in the bedroom ©吴昂


Due to the limitations of the original floor plan, the kitchen is also a transit space for entry, access to the bathroom, and access to the office area. Therefore, it is necessary to meet the basic functions of the kitchen while the aisle must be open. The scale of the cabinets needed to be adjusted appropriately, and after several verifications, a depth of 520mm was found to be appropriate. The kitchen window is very close to the red brick fence, but with the greenery, you can enjoy the nature while cooking by pushing the window open every day.

▼厨房,kitchen ©吴昂


The furniture material chosen is birch marine board, which is inherently waterproof and weather-resistant. Because there are out-of-the-way eaves, the doors and windows are also made on site by the master carpenters. The surface of the board is only lightly sanded by the master, and I hope that the texture of the wood can still be clearly touched after the wood wax oil is applied. The color of the wood will also change with the environment, I hope the house and people can “age naturally”.

▼窗户细部,details ©吴状


The remodeled residence No. 16 is not considered exquisite, but living down here is not boring at all. The high fence did not lock it, but let me get more comfortable here.

▼夜景,night view ©吴状

▼房子区位,仅靠围墙,house locationonly on the wall ©MOU建筑工社

▼概念草图,concept sketch ©MOU建筑工社

▼改造前平面,plan before renovation ©MOU建筑工社

▼改造后平面,plan after renovation ©MOU建筑工社

项目设计 & 完成年份:2020.07~2020.09 & 2020.9~2021.1

Project name:NO.16 House
Design:MOU Architecture Studio
Contact e-mail:mouarchitecture@163.com
Design year & Completion Year:2020.07~2020.09 & 2020.9~2021.1
Leader designer & Team:Wuzhuang, Fushiyu
Project location:Nanjing
Gross Built Area (square meters):46㎡
Photo credits (needs to credit each):Wuang, Wuzhuang
Partners:Shanghai Canhao Industrial Co.ltd. 、Nanjing Bangxi Construction Material Co.,Ltd.
Products used in the project:Birch multilayer board, panDOMO, Plaster, 304 Stainless steel