In 2015 Neill and Yijing shifted from Beijing to Shenzhen to be closer to family and new work opportunities. Keeping within a tight budget and timeframe we renovated a 104m2 apartment on the 27th floor of a generic converted office building.
The original apartment was configured as three bedrooms with a separate kitchen and combined toilet and bathroom. Due to the building originally being designed as an office we had the fairly unique opportunity of having no internal load-bearing walls, and quickly went to work demolishing all the existing partitions with dreams of a completely open space.
Later appraisal of that plan resulted in deciding that a little privacy might be appreciated, closing in the toilet, bathroom, and two bedrooms with a shared wardrobe space between. The design and detailing were done on the fly with the contractors as we begun to understand their skills and weaknesses.
During the demolition, the construction team used an ad-hoc tool consisting of box-cutter blade attached to the end of a broomstick to scrape old paint off the walls and ceiling. The resultant motley pattern seemed almost organic, exposing the roughness of the concrete below and traces of previous renovations. We decided to keep this treatment, sealing it with a matte polyurethane, and offsetting the new infill with white gib walls. The high planer surface contrasting with the far more obtuse accuracy of the existing structure.
The entire palette of materials consists of white painted gib, plywood, existing walls and ceilings with polyurethane, concrete, and brass.
The apartment is on a somewhat traditional street in Luohu, Shenzhen’s oldest district as a city. On the ground floor is a mixture of noodle shops, cigarette and alcohol convenience stores, and dried traditional Chinese medicine pharmacies, making for lively, if not busy, street most hours of the day. This is different to most residential buildings in Shenzhen that have one or two levels of separation from the street, such as a gated private park and a lobby. The effect of entering the apartment from this context, the height and space, as well as the more minimalist decoration, is calming in its contrast.