Separation without walls
What makes Museum House categorically unique to other houses is its floor plan, almost entirely free from walls beyond the functional separation of wet and dry areas. Instead of solid walls, collections of objects gathered over time by the inhabitants form the language that defines boundaries between spatial use.
To maximize the land use of this ancestral site, grids were used to define and portion out the various spatial requirements of the family. The house was then sequentially crafted through the segregation of activities.
Spiritual and individual spaces
Envisioned as a ‘house within a house’, each bedroom is curated as an individualistic space, interconnected by thresholds separating private areas from the communal portions of the house. The gradual build-up in volume and height seen from the front elevation signals the importance of spaces within the house, with the communal cluster culminating in a towering prayer hall. High external walls shield the house from eyeline of surrounding residences and help to consolidate external courtyards as part of the house rather than simply boundary spaces.
Clad with our Smoked Thin Brick, Museum House’s exterior exudes monolithism and monumentality, while the interior suggests a certain softness by connecting spaces via thresholds and views, rather than separations. Internal courtyards carved out from bedroom spaces are reminiscent of gardens within Chinese houses; these courtyards also act as light wells, drawing natural light into the rooms.
While Museum House is designed to be largely contained, great expanses of glass doors and windows allow the eastern sun in during the early day, while the hotter western sun is repelled by the high external walls. These openings create visual connections between various spaces, their opacities curated through the placement of the family’s collections. Introducing these openings to the central internal courtyard visually links the threshold spaces, creating opportunities for the family to be aware of each other’s presence, signaling movement between the communal and private spaces.
A tribute Chinese architecture
The result of these spatial maneuvers is a house that explores the notion of articulated monumentality, referenced from traditional Chinese architecture. Museum House re-thinks the ideas of enclosure, spatial hierarchy and partition to create a home that while volumetrically large, still feels intimate.