Mechanization, mass-production and the accompanying commodification of building culture drastically changed domesticity. The dwelling was forever more technology driven and a vessel for enjoying services and amenities. Standard of living was anchored to the idea of convenience and lifestyles were projected to be increasingly dynamic. Diversity in matters of family type and composition was to become the norm. Houses would need an integrated capacity to adapt to this intensifying change.
Twentieth century architecture is fraught with projects proposing dwellings that could at once transform and adjust to varying conditions, lifestyles or context. Further the theme of mobility accompanied adaptability and flexibility to advance the idea of a multifunctional house. A sample experiment, «suitcase house» proposed by the Palace Corporation in 1945 was an easily assembled, demountable and transportable dwelling unit suited to the needs of migrating populations.
More than half a century later, another «suitcase house» was proposed by an architect exploring the notion of multiple functions and their time-based interaction. Gary Chang designed the multi-use house with the idea of spatial transformation in mind. Known for his 24 room variation of a 344 sq ft apartment, (see 24 Rooms Tucked Into One by Virginia Gardiner in New York Times; January 14, 2009), his design for the suitcase house is a veritable architectural transformer. The house’s piano nobile is cantilevered into the landscape by an opaque foundation prism. The two-storey house is anchored to the Chinese landscape in a town named Badaling just north of Beijing. The house is a simple manifestation of an open plan structured by a series of structural porticoes. The box frame structured plan is reconfigurable accommodating up to 14 people in numerous functional scenarios. The multifunctional strata can be adapted by manipulating screens, which divide the open plan into a series of rooms. The house’s foundation is where most of the multiple functions are concealed. Trap doors access these chambers used for sleeping, working or relaxing.
Built in 2001, the utopian longhouse employs a stratified section of served and service spaces. The service spaces housed in the lower container are closed off to the surrounding landscape while the relationship between the living spaces and the environment is filtered by a matrix of varying filigree screens.
|Suitcase House confirguration|