Fei Architects was founded by Michelle Yip and is based in Guangzhou, where it has a sister art gallery and design boutique. The Borderless Community of Zi Ni Twelve Portals is a housing project in Guangzhou, China, designed by the local studio to “show off its occupants”.
Fei Architects removed the original exterior maintenance wall but maintained the existing deep eaves. A 1.5-metre wide slab concrete structure was added to create external balconies and corridors. Perforated brick screens, half walls, glass bricks and porthole windows create framing devices for the occupants to see and be seen by each other and passersby.
“As night falls, the whole building resembles a series of framed giant screens, playing a vivid film of everyday life,” said the studio. Fei Architects designed the project for seven occupants who identify as slash youths – a younger generation of Chinese people who embrace digital entrepreneurship and multiple creative jobs. “The slash youths are engaged in various industries and their work demands high social exposure,” explained the studio. “Therefore they would like to exhibit their works, products and even their operation model and everyday life so as to usher in a brand new urban lifestyle distinguished from the commuter’s routine followed by most of their peers.”
To facilitate this, The Borderless Community of Zi Ni Twelve Portals has plenty of communal space and, of course, the windows that put the occupants on display. A spiral staircase cantilevers over a sheltered terrace where residents can sit next to a pool of water and enjoy the fresh air. Inside, the individual apartments are designed to cater to this new mode of living.
The sheltered balconies are a deliberate design to accommodate the climate of Guangzhou, which has high temperatures and a rainy season. Occupants can leave the doors open for a breeze and sit outside even when it is pouring with rain. Although slash youths are at the vanguard of Chinese life, Fei Architects believes this prototype of open living with rooms that serve multiple functions will translate to a wider audience following the pandemic.
Photography is by Zheng Qingling.