Rethinking the Split House
Architects & Firms
Project Size: 2,077 square feet (including yard and terrace)
Program: When commissioned to convert a ramshackle lane house in Shanghai into a three-unit apartment building, local firm Neri&Hu Design and Research Office tried to maintain the traditional character of the 1930s-era building, while giving it a contemporary edge. The house sits in the Tianzifang neighborhood, which still has the city’s old web of narrow streets and alleys.
Solution: Completed in August 2012, Rethinking the Split House is composed of two volumes with a stair core rising between them. A split stairway—one half private, one half communal—links bedrooms on one side with living and dining spaces half a level above. The unusual stair also facilitates encounters between residents as they move through the 2,000-square-foot-building. The architects also created a contrast between the front and back of the building, giving it a mostly opaque street facade, while almost entirely glazing the other side.
The architects wanted to challenge norms of public versus private space, placing bathrooms next to the stairway, separated only by a wall of clear glass. The same theme appears in other recent projects by Neri&Hu, including Waterhouse at South Bund, a hotel where some guestrooms have views into public spaces such as the lobby and the restaurant.
Completion Date: Aug 2012
Gross square footage: 2,077 square feet (including yard and terrace)
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Interior designer: Neri&Hu Design and Research Office