The SuitCase House
A stiff, flat-sided case for carrying ones personal items when one is traveling.
Casting a question mark upon the proverbial image of the house, this scheme by EDGE attempts to rethink the nature of intimacy, privacy, spontaneity and flexibility. It is a simple demonstration of the desire for ultimate adaptability, in pursuit of a proscenium for infinite scenarios, a plane of sensual (p)leisure.
The house is located at the head of the Nangou Valley near the Great Wall at Badaling, North of Beijing. The site, which slopes steeply towards the north, is relatively exposed. To maximize views to the prominent Great Wall and solar exposure in the continental temperate climate, a north-south orientation is adopted. It will be possible to see the great wall from all major spaces within the dwelling whilst seated. One of the essential components of luxury is choice and the dwelling is provided with multiple entrances, all with equal status, whilst each room is differentiated by the provision of unique amenities.
The dwelling represents a stacking of strata. The bottom stratum acts as a container for domestic fittings and equipment, services and maids’ quarters. It also fulfills the requirements for storage. Compartments are concealed by a landscape of floor panels, which when raised, give access to the world below. The top stratum houses a series of blinds that may be raised or lowered to subdivide the space. Similarly, the building envelope is a stratification of vertical layers. The outer skin is a wrap of full height double-glazed folding doors while the inner layer is comprised of a series of screens forming a matrix of openings.
The abstract façade pattern is thereby rooted in its user-oriented operational logic. Together, these strata give form to the zone in between.
The middle stratum embodies a reincarnated piano nobile par excellence for habitation, activity and flow. Adapting a non-hierarchical layout with the help of folding and sliding mobile elements provided by the envelope, it transforms itself readily according to the nature of the activities, number of inhabitants, and personal preferences for degrees of enclosure and privacy. At any point in time, only the essential elements required will have a spatial presence. A metamorphic volume, it transforms effortlessly from an open space to a sequence of rooms, depending on the inhabitants’ specific requirements.
The floor panels evoke unmistakable associations with the interior of a luxury cruise-boat. They are pneumatically assisted for ease and convenience. When opened an interior is revealed, which corresponds to the program contained. As mid-level compartments fulfill most requirements little furniture is required. What furniture there is, is mobile and plays an active role in the dwelling’s high degree of adaptability.