Rethinking The Split House

Prize Winner in Architectural Design / Residential Architecture
Firm LocationShanghai, China
CompanyNeri&hu Design and Research Office
Lead DesignerLyndon Neri & Rossana Hu
Design Team

Slowly being demolished and taken over by high-density developments all over the city, the Shanghai vernacular lilong lane house is now a diminishing typology. Located in the historic and artistic area of Tianzifang, the dilapidated lane house that Neri&Hu was commissioned to reconstruct was left with almost nothing except the existing shell. To keep the spirit of this typology alive, a new continuous metal stair was inserted to replace the old decaying wooden stair that was no longer code compliant. The focal stair which celebrates a blurring of the private and the public is the conceptual departure point of the project, binding together the scattered spaces, while bringing vibrancy and interest to what is normally the darkest portion of the lane house. Architecturally, the façade ornamentation built up over the last 60 years was stripped off, and large openings were created on the frontal section to bring light deep into the plan on each floor. Gazing into these picture windows forces one to question notions of privacy, domesticity and community within the unique environment of Shanghai’s lilong.