Shanghai Garden Villa
Shanghai Forte Land
Large houses in contemporary China are a new evolving programmatic typology where formal hosting has increasing importance alongside changing family lifestyles. Specific rituals have developed, for example, a typical gathering between owners and their guests starts with a formal meeting, followed by elaborate Chinese dining, then informal entertainment and games. At the same time, it is common for 3 or more generations of the Chinese family to live together in the same residence, each having their privacy needs as well as shared spaces. This house is about the balance of these dualities, of family life and social life.
The villa is organized into 2 rectilinear blocks sitting on an arrangement of walls that extend into the surrounding garden. These 2 blocks interlock at a 3-storey tall screened box that houses a lift and spiral staircase in the center of the site. On the ground floor, half of the villa is designed for formal hosting and meetings whilst the other half contains the family living quarters. Each wing of the building is organized with its own unique water courtyard. Bedrooms are placed in the second floor blocks, whilst entertainment and sports facilities are positioned in the basement including a swimming pool that opens on the south side to a sloping landscape.
The garden villa is modernist yet alludes to oriental sensibilities, inspired by the parallels between Mies’s Barcelona pavilion where seemingly free composition of walls in plan blur the boundaries between inside and outside, and traditional Chinese courtyard houses where houses and courtyards are organized around each other.