One Room One Garden / Scale Forest Atelier
- Area :
Manufacturers : Harmel Home, Parador, Rosl
Lead Architect :
Jia Gu, Shan Zhong
Text description provided by the architects. The condo is located in a high-rise residential building in Nanjing along the Qinhuai River, and the millennium Stone City Wall is on the north of it. The owner couple, who are about to retire, want to transform the existing standard three-beds condo into a residence suitable for retirement living. The design intentionally opens up the enclosed rooms and transforms the three-bedroom layout into one bedroom or as we can also call it: one garden. Original Linear circulation is reorganized into a looped circulation which makes one can stroll in the garden. Walking through the aisles with various functions, the framed view of the interior and exterior windows changes and enriches the sight constantly. It has the same spatial experience as living and moving in a Chinese garden. In the post-pandemic era, people spend a lot more time at home, interesting residential spaces have never been more important than they are today.
We created a series of functions to meet the owner couple’s living habits and emotional needs, bringing some fresh experiences to their retirement living. In the yard-like multifunctional living room, one can play somatosensory games or do some planting. Stroll into the book alley, one can spend some quality reading time here. One can also have a relaxing foot bath in front of the north bay window and enjoy the scenery of the Qinhuai River. The center of the home revolves around the dining table and culinary space, making it easy for the owners to socialize with family and friends.The living room facing the entry is a diversified activity area and a transition space from exterior to interior. It has a similar spatial feeling to the front yard of a traditional single-family house. The living room design is a reinterpretation of landscape elements such as terraces, stones, fences, and pergolas. It conforms to the staggering height difference of the original apartment, creating a landscaped seating area, and enhancing the feeling of an outdoor yard.
As the boundary of the living room, the sofa back is designed to be as light as the boundary of an outdoor yard – “Liba”. The backrest wood ring adopts the cold-bending veneer technique. The fabrication allows us to produce a rigid structure that can be leaned on without a heavy look. Liba backrest is super light and easy to adjust its placement, which is suitable for a variety of usage scenarios. There is no furniture placed at the center of the living room, leaving a spacious and flexible place for occupants to play yoga, somatosensory games, and other activities.The wooden materials enclose quiet and warm spaces for dining, reading, and leisure, maximizing the depth of the apartment along the diagonal direction. Each space has a sense of nested layers of progress. The wooden hallway hints at the entry into a series of relaxation spaces, and also the transition between the quiet bedroom and more active spaces. The wooden ceiling uses the condominium’s original flooring, which has been planed, polished, and hung obliquely to present the texture of the Okan wood in a new way.
The two south-facing bedrooms in the original condo were merged into one master bedroom in the new design. This allows 6 to 8hours of sunlight to flush through the bay windows into the master bedroom every day. The owner asked for 2 separate beds with adjustable backrests to avoid interference of sleep. We created an intimate and interference-free double bed by combining the single beds with a gap in-between. Curtains are used in the wardrobe to replace the cabinet doors. Opening the curtain, one can select clothes in an open manner; closing the curtain, the sleeping space has an extra piece of calmness.
Entering the book alley from the wooden portal, one immediately enters a calm space surrounded by books. The windows, short walls, and narrow door openings around also make the book alley interact with other spaces naturally. The book alley allows the condo’s north-south line of sight to pass through. One can look through the bedroom window and see the desk, the green seating deck, and the furthest point – the scenery outside of the window. People can pause here, pick some books or look at photo albums, read and rest in this peaceful corner.
The north bay window has the best view of the whole condominium. We expanded the bay window into a special-shaped seating deck， lowered the ceiling， and made an intimate rest space. The owner can sit by the window and enjoy the scenic view outside. The void in the middle of the seating deck can be placed with a board to form a complete bed, and the sliding doors can be pulled up to make the space a cozy guest room. There is a stone foot bathtub under the seating deck, so the owners can enjoy the riverside scenery while having a relaxing foot bath.The north side of the apartment has a wonderful view of the Nanjing Qinhuai River，the stone city wall, and the TV tower. Before the renovation, the partition walls of the guest room, guest bathroom, and kitchen on the north side completely blocked the view and light from entering public areas of the apartment. The new design breaks the closed feeling of separate small rooms and creates an open and integrated space through the combination of short walls and doors. When the doors are closed, each space maintains independent functions; when the doors are open, the best view from the north fully enters into the apartment.
The owners’ daily washing and showering mainly happen in the master bathroom, so we envisioned the guest bathroom as a leisure garden path, where one can wash hands, water some flowers, and guests can enjoy the Qinhuai River view. The stainless steel basin meets the function with the cleanest form, creating a light and neat window space. One can enjoy the breath taking view whenever walking pass throughthebathroom. The shower area wall continues the wooden texture, using waterproof birch plywood. The floor planks are recycled from the condo, and are planed, polished, and coated with waterproof wax. The existing grooves on the back of the floor planks provide a perfect anti-slip function. The guest bathroom provides an intimate warm wooden feeling when bathing and a breath taking open view when looking out the window.
Social Activities such as children’s visits and family friends’ gatherings mainly take place at the dining table. The owner will also devote more leisure time to cooking after retirement. So dining table becomes the center of family activities， and it is also the physical center of the condo. The stainless steel table surface has a cool metal feeling which is in contrast with the warm wooden material. The table is supported by an I-beam fixed between two sheer walls. Together with the hanging cabinets, they form an undulating canyon-like edge in the kitchen and dining space.
Recycled Plank Flooring
The old plank flooring of the condo was reused to become part of the new home. The flooring is a type of African Okan wood and was coated with sealer. After more than 20 years of use, the sealing paint on the flooring surface is dull and scratched. We planed, polished, and waxed the planks, then discovered that they have quite rich and distinctive patterns. We redesigned the look and installation of these flooring planks and made the wooden portal ceiling, the guest bathroom flooring, the window frame of the master bedroom, and some other home decor items.