A Soaring Atrium With a Perforated Roof Fills This Chinese Home With Dappled Light

A Soaring Atrium With a Perforated Roof Fills This Chinese Home With Dappled Light

By Melissa Dalton
Patterned light falls into the open heart of this alluring Jinhua City residence.

When Mr. Chow, an entrepreneur, bought this four-level home in Jinhua City in China’s Zhejiang Province, there was much to appreciate. For one, at 5,381 square feet, the residence was spacious and ready to be optimized. 

"The house has a balcony for each room, with a large courtyard below and a large terrace above," he says. "The only drawback before the renovation was its [lack of] sunlight."

The renovation of Mr. Chow’s four-level, semi-detached home in Jinhua City was led by Liang Architecture Studio and completed in December 2019.

Chow turned to Liang Architecture Studio, whose work started in the foyer. There, they removed the second- and third-level floor slabs to create a voluminous open core at the center of the building. One side of that central core is now occupied by an atrium.

In the soaring expanse above the foyer, structural beams were kept in place as a reminder of the building’s history, and footbridges on the second and third levels connect the two sides of the building. The entire interior volume was topped with a perforated aluminum panel under a glass roof, which creates a play of natural light and shadow throughout the day.

The capacious foyer of the home is now joined by an airy atrium that soars from the basement to the roof. Expansive interior openings lined with wood frame the view into the atrium.

The wood-wrapped footbridge on the floor above defines the passage into the living room.

The design team added new perimeter window openings to encourage light into the home wherever possible.

A look back at the atrium on the left and the foyer on the right—sleek, built-in storage lines the entry on one side, opposite a two-sided fireplace.

The ceiling height was lowered over the seating area in the living room to create a cozy enclosure there, while double-height windows on the perimeter bring in yet more light.


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The interior openings frame composed sightlines of the sculptural internal staircase.

Each floor now benefits from the natural light brought in by the atrium.

At the upper two levels, footbridges connect the two sides of the building and don’t detract from the open air space.

"A structural beam above the foyer was retained, which witnessed renewal of the space and carries its past memories," says the firm. "The box beside the beam features a mirror surface, which reflects it and seems to blur...the relationship between the old and new."

The perforated aluminum panel beneath a glass roof covers the open core of the building and manipulates the natural light throughout the home.

The play of natural light and texture from the structural beam becomes an art installation against white walls.

The main floor of the home hosts the living spaces and a bedroom, while the second floor is dedicated to the children’s bedroom and bath, a second living room, and a study. The third floor is occupied by an expansive master suite, study/bedroom suite, and a terrace, and the basement is outfitted with a home theater, home gym, tearoom, and sunken courtyard at the base of the atrium. 

Chow’s goals for the remodel were to create a more casual, convivial atmosphere for the family, whether they’re spending time together or apart. "The family has more chances to get along with each other. For example, to cook, to watch movies, to drink tea, and so on," he says. 

On the main floor, the rhythmic repetition of floor-to-ceiling windows in the kitchen and dining room overlook the courtyard.

"The kitchen, dining room, and other public areas are awash in daylight," says the design firm. "Those public areas are made open, and help to facilitate physical and spiritual interaction among family members."

The family room on the second level.

A third-floor study room overlooks the atrium.

In the third-floor master suite, a core of storage separates the bed and bathroom.

The sunken courtyard at the base of the atrium.

The basement screening room.

It’s hard to believe that prior to the renovation, there were only two areas of the building that admitted natural light. Now, says the firm, "the angles of sunlight vary throughout the day and year. Light freely moves within the space [and] generates dappled shadows, which interact with different areas and provide the occupants with surprising and playful experiences." 

The remodel has given the family a newfound appreciation for home. "We used to love to go outside, but now we prefer to stay at home and spend time gathering with my family and friends," says Chow.

Basement Plan

First Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan 

Third Floor Plan

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