‘IN-Beijing’ SOHO | Block D

This sunken court by its whole appearance is not a space for public transit like a mall, but turn-table and meeting point between those coming from outside with those living there, between those turning home with those leaving. For the occupants of one of the four blocks it is the place for meeting one another in the common heart of their residential area. The central court is their territory, and this experience makes each inhabitant feel as a part of this special community, feel at home and safe.
This centre of the development is intended to become an eye-catcher, unique in design and atmosphere, but at the same time casual, convenient, and pleasant: a blend of architecture and landscape. This is the reason for its distinct shape, something between mountain and building, opening up into an intimate inner circle with a fountain murmuring in the middle.

Once the residents are entering their own block, they are turning the back towards the outdoor world: The single block is their personal environment, clearly different from any of the other three blocks around with regard to colours, materials, architectural design and landscaping. The single block is something like the common living room for the closer neighbourhood whose terraces and front yards are bordering the interior court. It is the place for people who are inevitably sharing the rhythm of daily life.
For the sake of creating distinct identities inside the huge floor space program, the four blocks are as different as possible while still following a unifying contemporary architectural language:
They firmly represent the four seasons as main theme, each of them according to their location (winter is north, autumn is west etc.). The superposed seasonal theme is visible from outside, from colours, materials and structure of the facades, via surfaces and plants in the individual courtyards, up to details of the interior design of the public areas.

Suzhou Marina Cove Gardens

Simple shapes and forms, clear volumes and a reduced selection of materials (mainly white plaster, partly light-colour wooden panels and dark-grey aluminum) define the character of the buildings in sharp contrast to the usual high-end residential projects in China.

29 town houses and detached villas as well as 8 apartment buildings, totally 6 different building types, 3 to 4 levels high, are grouped along artificial canals and ponds, all enjoying splendid views towards the water scenery of Jinji Lake.

Qinghua Garden Residential Community

Principle of the urban layout has been to provide every residential building with good views to the landscape/lake and the forest. Furthermore vast open space areas have been created, which are completely undisturbed by car traffic.

In a smaller scale, special attention has been paid to the apartment layout. The building depth is mostly only 10m, allowing the flats to have a maximum of natural lighting. A majority of the apartments have triple orientation and natural ventilation for all rooms.
The façades draw their image from the surrounding trees with their different vegetation densities, allowing sunlight to pass through or to create shadows. This idea is also reflected in a colour scheme which mainly uses green tones as well as in the principle of a ‘second skin’:
The interior façade of the buildings is made of concrete and glass. Separated with a distance of about 20 cm from the wall and attached to it by a metal anchorage, a second skin made of wooden shutters protects the apartments from too much sun exposure. The shutters can be moved by the residents according to their needs, thereby creating a random and lively façade pattern.

The roofs of the buildings also perform as additional garden and can be used as a safe playground for children, partly as semi-public terrace with great views for all occupants, partly as a private roof garden for the top duplex apartments.
Light structure ‚bridges’ between the low-rise buildings are serving as extension space of the adjacent apartments and emphasize as gates the 4 pedestrian corridors in north-south direction.

A special characteristic of this urban planning scheme is its mixture between 4, 6 and 11 level apartment buildings and townhouses. High-rises are not concentrated in one area, but split into smaller clusters, each of them marked by a lake and interconnected with the others by a watercourse.

P.S.: The final realization of the project followed a completely different design language and is consequently shown as separate project in this website.

Guangzhou residential twin tower

Furthermore the building is alongside of subway line 5 with convenient access to public traffic. The plot is one of the last remaining within the new CBD where residential use is permitted.
The plot lies in a rectangular plan from north to south. A northern and a southern tower, both with stunning and undisturbed views, will be constructed upon a common podium building.
The Western residential units may see Zhujiang Park and will be overlooking the whole new skyline of the Central Business District, the Southern apartments will have overwhelming views towards the waterscape of Pearl River.

The first two floors are mainly for commercial uses, the third floor accommodates a public kindergarten. This podium building will have a dense business atmosphere and includes an arcade in the ground floor which is typical for the city.
The slightly protruding higher parts of both high-rise volumes divide the buildings in an upper and lower part, like the human body. Seen as a whole, the two towers form a couple, similar in colours and shape, looking into different directions, but standing on the same basis and relying on each other. The cantilevering upper parts emphasize the most beautiful view directions and accommodate the biggest and best apartments.

The design strives for a modern and reduced architectural style. The towers have the shape of simple cuboids. Brown colours that gradually change from top to bottom – from light to dark in one tower, conversely in the other one – create a vivid, yet unobtrusive appearance.
Although the exterior shape is simplified to a possible maximum, the floor plans fully consider southern Chinese living style, with natural ventilation for each room and terraces big enough to serve as outdoor living spaces.
The night illumination reflects the image of a meteor shower. Slim LED lights integrated into the façade will create a unique nocturnal figure visible from far away.

Suizhong seaside community

A corona of 18-levels high-rise buildings is surrounding the plot along its borders, creating not only a decent city skyline, but also protecting and “safeguarding” the low-rise development inside the borders. The high-rises are facing the sea in the south.

In the inner part of the plot an extensive park with water feature will be created, including a small number of townhouses.
In the north-eastern corner a twin tower of about 100 meters fulfils the function of an eye-catcher and landmark building, combined with attractive commercial uses in its podium level.
1-3 levels commercial buildings and public facilities are encompassing the land on three sides, where such uses are obvious and suitable according to the surrounding urban functions. These pedestal buildings are separating private and public space in a clear and unmistakable way and create a border for the more intimate residential uses inside.

3/4 of the apartments are below 90m², and even the bigger ones have reasonable sizes. In almost 95% of the apartments only two flats share one traffic core – except for a very small percentage of 40 m² one-bedroom apartments.
Point-type buildings that avoid an unpleasant “wall-effect” are the characteristic building type. Moreover, the vast majority of the land is dominated by buildings within or below 11 levels, which have a high popularity and still provide a widely accepted human scale.

In this project urban planning, architecture and floor plan layouts form a unity, altogether with the aim of a reasonable and economic planning with an outstanding quality and liveability. Such an approach is certainly not the norm for low- to medium-income residences in China. The planning demonstrates that high density, high quality and affordability are not mutually exclusive.

House T | Cologne

When occupants or guests are approaching the house, they find here the most extrovert and communicative part of the building: the open kitchen as one of the central functions of the building program. With its fully glazed side walls, the kitchen forms a frame towards inside and outside: Whereas the garden and the picturesque houses of the neighbourhood are presented in big formatted frames, the observer from outside will get a deliberate image of the archaic functions of cooking and eating.

In the interior, the flat kitchen space merges into a tall living room inside the adjacent cuboid. The ceiling heights of both rooms which are openly interconnected form an obvious contrast: the low ceiling of the kitchen is emphasizing the horizontal, whilst the double height living room is developing into the vertical. From outside, the living space is secluded and hidden to the view, providing a rather contemplative atmosphere with its window openings located far on top: instead of culinary delights, this is the place for music, retreat, privacy, brief: protection.

The living room gives access to all other rooms on the 3 levels of the cuboid: Working and guest rooms with corresponding bathrooms, storage and wellness space in the basement, as well as bedrooms and bathrooms of the family in the second floor.
Here the flexibility of the building becomes evident: Planned for a family of four which finally will be reduced to the parents as only permanent occupants, the relatively small rooms of the upper level can be simply combined to bigger areas by removing the non-supporting partition walls.

Wuhan ‘Green Sky’

In prominent location, a solitaire high-rise building, 12 levels high, marks the community entrance. It is located on the highest point of a sloped public, entrance plaza with a special water feature and a circular-shaped café.
The apartments offer a rich variety of different floor plans; a big part of them are 2 levels duplex flats. The main living rooms are south-oriented and are facing the boulevard. Colourful painted balconies and shear-walls provide privacy and structure the facade.

The facades reflect the interior organization and give a vivid image of the richness of functions and living styles. Size and individual layout of each apartment can immediately be seen from outside.
The developer will use RhineScheme’s design with its European approach as a new brand in their residential ‘product line’.

Siebengebirge, Cologne

For a long time the building with its steel frame, built in 1908/1909 by the architect Hans Verbeek, was not considered to be capable of repair. In particular the large depth of the building, combined with the low storey height, begged the question of sufficient natural light and successful marketing.

The building was in need of modernization, which on the one hand would respect the character of the building and on the other would guarantee the sustainability of use.
In order to reduce the interference in the listed building to a minimum, RhineScheme’s German partner practice ksg dispensed with providing widely used light-courtyards.

Eventually the architects created generously proportioned living areas by the water, through the use of intelligent, open layouts and through glazed balconies. In all, 130 flats were created on eight floors with attractive commercial areas on the ground floor along the newly created River Promenade.

Jinji Lake Townhouse Community

  • Sufficient number of different house types that avoids any feeling of repetition and monotony.
  • Easy access from every single house to a spacious internal green area.
  • House clusters, different in scale and shape, giving individuality to every house location and forming neighbourhood squares to encourage social contacts.

The main community entrance is from the west side, from a turnaround in a rather calm and hidden side street. Entering the community by car, one will pass by a bridge over a small canal. The first impression is the club building which frames the central green area on its west side. The ground floor of the club is generously glazed, so that you can catch a view of the attractive central waterscape already from the entrance.
The urban pattern follows a clear and simple idea: hard shell – soft core. Along the plot borders: taller houses in a rather regular and rigid order – in the middle: lower houses in a more random and casual arrangement.
These houses are forming altogether 4 clusters, separated cross-wise by the north-south green belt, the club and the eastern pedestrian entrance. In every cluster there is a small community square.

Streets, squares, public green and private gardens are closely interconnected and form a unique network: A spacious interior landscape, completely car-free, goes from north to south, widens in the centre around the club with a small lake and ends in a public terrace along the canal in the south. The houses which border this green area are constantly changing the direction, and there is a sequence of narrow and wide spaces. The central green forms a natural landscape with meadows, groups of trees and water – similar to an English-style landscape park. It is a place for relaxing, meeting, meditating, playing, and sporting, all in an unorganized, casual way. Not too much design, not too much decoration.
The main street will be experienced like a panorama road: It is interrupted by the community squares, it crosses bridges, it is once narrow, once wide, it opens views into the landscape, views to inside and to outside, and ends in a view towards the canal.

Equal advantages for all house types and locations are provided: All houses along the borders have big gardens, some of them even two and most of them facing two directions.
All courtyard houses have gardens which either directly face the inner green or a neighbourhood square, or both of them. Even the inner semi-detached houses with relatively small gardens can enjoy good views either to the lake or towards the inner green.

All in all, 5 different house types are offered, each of them providing the qualities of a small villa. Traditional townhouses (“row houses”) could be avoided in order to achieve a maximum marketing value. From totally 70 houses, 90% are either detached or semi-detached. Even the 10% houses with neighbours on two sides can be regarded as small single villas.
The type distribution follows a clear hierarchy in size and location: Detached villas (300m²) along the canal, with best conditions facing south and water, 2.5 levels semi-detached houses (240m²) along the Western and Eastern borders, 2 levels L-shaped courtyard houses (220m²) around the central green area.

Zhangjiawo SOHO

Main planning aim was hence to create a vivid, modern community which mainly appeals to the younger generation. Clearly recognizable clusters with semi-public courtyards create a friendly and communicative, at the same time safe living space.

The proposed typology of buildings is reflecting wishes and possibilities of young people – medium and small-sized apartments with a big variety of additional spaces: as private gardens, terraces, balconies – all of them bright and with good solar conditions.
Affordable (first) apartments with these qualities are rare to find, making this project an exceptionally good choice for young people.