In today’s ever-changing times, it’s more important than ever to incorporate some flexibility into our lives. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving to a different country, or expanding your family, we all have to allow the unexpected to just happen sometimes.
One of the biggest challenges in this regard is incorporating flexibility into the home. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to extend a property past its original constraints, which means the more your family grows, the more crowded your house is going to get. That’s why Shanghai-based interior architecture firm RIGI Design created a modular interior for their refurbishment of a local house from the 1940s. The multigenerational project is aptly titled “A White House, A Growing Home,” and its design is intended to expand and adapt in accordance with the shifting needs of the family. The client’s child played a key role in the design process, resulting in a house that meets the needs of both parent and offspring.
The three-story house is located in one of Shanghai’s many dense residential neighborhoods. The client enlisted RIGI Design to refit the interior using a slew of adaptable elements, including modular furniture and storage units. One of the the brief’s main goals was to introduce more light into the house, which suffered from a deep plan and a lack of brightness in its interiors. To solve this problem, RIGI decided to use the home’s circulation as a way to break through its three floors, and so a perforated metal staircase now vertically punctuates the full height of the building and allows light to filter through an overhead skylight into the spaces below.
Many of the home’s internal walls were removed to create open-plan living spaces. As a result of this, the much-used living, kitchen, and dining areas now make up the bright, clean, minimal heart of the house. This space also benefits from one of the aforementioned pieces of adjustable furniture: the so-called “life board,” a wall that features perforated timber panelling and allows different types of shelving and accessories to be mounted and interchanged on it, creating a dynamic living wall that the family will always be able to use.
The furniture used in the project comes from a diverse array of minimalist suppliers. The couches and seating areas are courtesy of Swedish furniture company Blå Station, and some of the tables are sourced from the People’s Industrial Design Office in Beijing.
Another one of the house’s outstanding features is its color and material coding system, whereby certain zones are designed with different material palettes to indicate different usages. Still, the spaces are all unified by the use of light-colored wooden floorboards and white walls throughout. At the rear of the structure, an external courtyard is connected to the house by a glazed conservatory. Across the patio, a playhouse has been erected for the client’s child, and a hole has been left in the nearby concrete so that one day a tree can be panted there (symbolizing growth). Designer Kai Liu said of the project, “A house is not equal to home, home belongs to us and our family. A house is like a container to carry our growth, experience, and hope. We want to design something carrying beauty and happiness. Having seen so many houses, the only concept we believe is that a person cannot be stuck with a settled life, whether in the house’s values or style.”