Rethinking The Split House

PrizeWinner in Architectural Design / Residential Architecture
Firm LocationShanghai, China
CompanyNeri&hu Design and Research Office
Lead ArchitectLyndon 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.