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HFC - 1653
cn China
2 members
Akihito Matsushita

Before asking how to do the new social housing, we must seek where the people with low income can live in such contempory chinese urban texture. There are not obvious slums in a metropolitan city area like Shanghai and Beijing, since the government has put down huge amounts of money for urban management to maintain the city clean and organized. Therefore urban villages are being rapidly swapped away, while the city gentrification threatens the with low income with serious housing problems.

Thus here we focus directly onto the old chinese public housing, built and owned mostly by the government from the 60s to the end of century. Shanghai authority has started to add red tile pitched roof on old public housing. This operation may be criticized to be a window dressing, but it did improve the heat insulation and water proofing of the previous flat roof. So this apparent big success, was followed by many other big cities, and tinted the city skyline definitively.
It is a great work, even though, it still looks like a fake Mediterranean roof. In the process, much care is taken on every push and pull of the building; the gabled dorm windows are meticulously imitated with wooden louvers, in which the government had gloriously achieved the adjunction of the red "chapeau" on the modernist five-six stories block.
However, inside the space are empty it's empty and with no use.
Naturally we picked up that lost and free roof tops with plenty of enthusiasm, softly changing to be a viable housing with minimum adaptation. The red mask created by this chinese post-modern gesture will be our starting point to propose a new affordable housing typology for the people with low income.

Following this context, we want to provide a bigger and looser space with a sense of privacy, that is lacking in the common built low cost social housing.
The roof top is equally divided by two big units.
Additional staircase extends from the lower landing.
A real chimney is added to complete the fake roof design.
Abandoned water tanks are reused to be bathroom.
The existing steel columns help to frame the two additional walls.
With a simple partition and basic functionality, it can be easily repeated to various similar cases.
Two individual rooms are separated by an outside terrace.
The main space is oriented to three sides, and is naturally ventilated.

We prefer the common chinese urban materials, which are cheap, available, and easy to be transported and assembled. New additional walls are concealed by plywood sheathing, coated in red waterproofing layer. The ceiling is covered by metal membrane, besides its anti-fire and vapor proof attributes, it reflects the summer heat, while keeping the warmth in the winter and bringing more luminosity inside.

The public housing has been witnessing for years the chinese social urban reforms. As we perceive it, this basic standardized units are adaptable system, both in content and outlook. To revive the "red mask" is to embrace these social transformations perscriting a new habitat for the future.

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