Innie & Outie: Practicing Rudiments in China

Qingpu, Shanghai, China, 2012

Innie & Outie are two different types of courtyard houses. Three of each type, totaling six houses, are sited close to Dianshan Lake—a large, freshwater lake in Qingpu, Shanghai, China. The houses are rudimentary in several respects. Materially and tectonically the houses abide by basic construction techniques that are ubiquitous to the region; these include the pouring of concrete and the laying of masonry. Formally and figurally the houses are primitive; their elevations tend toward the “architecturally-implausible” in that the proportions of the tower forms are seemingly incapable of housing familiar, domestic spaces. Such ostensible incongruities between exterior form and interior space are sought-after as a way of emphasizing potential readings of the forms as primitive—illustrating morphological processes that are circumstantial and cumulative.

The changing proportionality of the masonry coursing, from the lower portions of the facades to the upper portions of the towers, aims to accentuate the linear process of stonework. The subtle differences in the rates of change, from horizontally oriented coursings to vertically oriented coursings in each of the towers, demonstrate the autonomy granted to individual stonemasons working on different towers simultaneously. The pattern of stonework for Innie & Outie is also heavily influenced by several buildings constructed during the Qing Dynasty, located in Yangzhou's Ge Garden.

The design of each house type seeks to address programmatic mandates stemming from certain local, cultural values, for example that all bedrooms and living areas are oriented toward southern exposure, and that bathrooms receive natural light; the development of the two planometric organizations—one of which is “introverted,” one of which is “extroverted”—privilege the former requirement, while the slender, periscopic light-scoops in section address the latter requirement.

More drawings, diagrams, and images coming soon….

Project Team:
David Moses
Nicole Wang
Travis Williams
Linda Yifei Zhang

Visualization: Peter Guthrie