In many contexts, during the 1980’s the notion of good spatial standards were displaced to allow for the real estate market to develop. Amongst other consequences, these standards have resulted in corridors and stairs becoming tighter. From a real estate perspective, what is sold is the usable surface within the unit.
Efficiency has become the goal at the expense of the actual livelihood of these routes. Certain types show how circulation can enhance interactions and use: A street can become a playground; a staircase a place for plants to grow and dry clothes; an access an outdoor living room; a shared terrace can host a dinner party; a lift can be a place for gathering; a ramp, a skaters’ platform. Circulation can also enhance environmental performance by providing shade and thermal control.
The appropriation of these unprogrammed spaces happens when and if those spaces are provided. Design strategies that facilitate appropriation still remain a fascinating challenge. How could the limits of one’s own house and its common spaces be reassessed? What new forms of living can help rethink the boundaries between housing circulation and program?
By branching the circulation system, units are reached from multiple directions. This strategy provides for alternative patterns of circulation and strengthens the link between units in communal paths that can be appropriated by homeowners with different degrees of privacy.
6-Corridor /”Double Loaded Lilong” -Shanghai
The original circulation of rowhouses is transformed by internal corridors, providing a more direct access to flats in the subdivided houses.
The branching corridors help to further fragment or extend portions of the lilong.
The different corridors create a variety of circulation paths that range from utilitarian to experiential.
Original Project: Siming Village Lilong, Shanghai
7-Elevator / “Elevator Ring” – Shanghai
The detached tower is transformed by an external elevator ring which provides vertical circulation. The ring is sufficiently spacious so as to accommodate mobile auxiliary spaces that become temporarily available for the private units adjacent to it.
The ring fragments allow access to different levels and create a variety of spatial and programmatic extensions for the flats.
Original Project: 21st Century Mansion be Yabu Pushelberg and Gensler Architects, Shanghai
8-Canal / “Villa Archipelago”-Suzhou
The roads of the lakeside villa compound are replaced by canals connecting to the underexploited water transport infrastructure of the city.
Each plot within an archipelago can become an island in its most exclusive form. Waterfront living reimagines unit types through their access and arrival sequences.
Original Project: Lakeside villa compound, Suzhou.
9-Staircase / Pinwheel Terrace-London
The transformation of the mews is prompted by introducing a “Cross” staircase formation which allows a versatile arrangement of unit types within the row.
The cross stair core externally becomes communal circulation between party walls. Inside the unit, it can also facilitate wet functions and storage spaces and organise the internal layout of the flat.
Beverage Mews by Peter Barber Architects, London