The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture invited Shanghai–based architecture practice Wutopia Lab to renovate two buildings in Dameisha Village, an urban slum with traditional Chinese characteristics, as part of a conceptual exhibition. Creating the resulting His and Her House presented a unique challenge for the architects, who worked to blur the line between the city and the village by activating the area. They conducted careful research to understand the societal and gender norms of the area to build an architectural metaphor for the complementary forces at play in urban rejuvenation.
His House is painted blue as a symbol of survival, competition, and masculinity. The green-and-blue interior carries out this masculine motif throughout throughout all details, including the use of a triangle shape on door frames and knobs. Spatially, the building has three rooms and a public restroom which support unique art installations. The installations represent the history of the salt fields and showcase bacon and wine, using the processes of food preservation and fermentation to signal the need for survival.
Her House stands in contrast to His House as a sensitive, delicate counterpart. Light pink paint signals stereotypical femininity. In contrast to triangle forms, semicircular forms are used on doorknobs and doorways to create a soft, curved appearance. Irregular windows, original to the home, create a lively facade. Curtains wrap one facade like a veil, implying introspection and contemplation, while also creating a new facade in front of the original balcony. Inside, a labyrinthine maze of walls connects spaces to one another, while windows provide views to the surrounding village.
His House and Her House—through color, form, light, and material— portray strong social metaphors in an architectural, artistic concept of urban revitalization.
Architect of Record: Wutopia Lab
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