These houses sat in ruin for decades until People's Architecture Office joined forces with the local government in a bid to revive the area and support a budding community of local artists and craftspeople.
Having fallen upon financial hardship, many residents left their homes vacant in Shangwei Village, Shenzen, China. These houses (some of which were hundreds of years old) sat in ruin for decades until People’s Architecture Office joined forces with the local government in a bid to revive the area and support a budding community of local artists and craftspeople.
This restoration was not without its challenges: the village government was legally bound to renovate uninhabitable properties with collapsed roofs, but the work involved in updating them ran the risk of impacting adjacent structures. The “Plugin House” circumvents these concerns. The Plugin House is something of a house-within-a-house; it’s a new structure inserted into the bones of the original home. Composed of a modular system of prefabricated panels, the structure is designed to be built using unskilled labour in less than a day.
Each Plugin House is customised for its site. Pictured here, the Huang family’s house is snuggled into a 15-square-metre space and even supports part of the original roof. Another project for the Fang family is larger at 20-square-metres, but shares an ingenious capitalisation of natural light along with composting toilet systems, among other modern features.
Pursuit of sustainability doesn’t always demand sacrificing the old to make way for the new – often, it means striking an accord between the two to bring the best out of both, as demonstrated here.