The owners of The Flowing Garden are two entrepreneur brothers. They intend to build a private house composed of three parts: two independent residential spaces for each brother’s family and a leisure space for gathering, meeting, fitness and other activities. In addition, the brothers hope that the newly-built house would be the space carrier of the whole family memories from generation to generation. This rectangular site leads north to the road and south to the sea. There are some existing buildings on the adjacent plots on the east and west sides. A 30-meter-wide windbreak forest belt interrupts the direct sea view from the site, but it prevents the bad influence from the strong typhoon. Except for the south, there’s no desirable landscapes on the other three sides. Therefore, the design focuses on the courtyard and landscaping in the interior space. The climate in Southern Fujian is generally warm. The courtyard not only improves the environmental conditions, but also creates the natural division and transition between the leisure and residential space, provoking a sense of continuous spatial flow across different areas. Firstly, we divide the site into two because its entrance is on the north side of the road. The north side is allocated for the public leisure space outward, and the south side is designated for the private residential space inward, and a shared pond is situated between these two parts. Then the residential part is divided in half into two independent residential units to generate a negative space, which naturally forms a ribbon courtyard between these two units. Most of the buildings are spread out in a single layer. Such a spatial scale is more in line with the theme of the garden. The leisure and residential parts have different functions, and scales of respective spaces are different from each other, creating contrasting atmospheres in internal spaces that are all unique. The leisure space is mainly for public activities, so the scale is relatively open and extensive. But the residential part is more compact, giving a delicate sense of home. The central pond yard creates a peaceful atmosphere. The tea room faces the pond yard and the inner courtyard behind it gives the space a sense of transparency. The grand dining room can be fully opened on the side facing the pond yard, and its back is connected with the inner patio, which enhances the fluidity of the space and the sense of depth. The swimming pool is placed in the basement. The sunken courtyard with multiple openings together with the waterscape skylight above the swimming pool bring in ample light. In the north of the site, the two residential units are combined into a whole building but separate inside. We placed the master bedrooms of the two brothers on the second floor on the best south side facing the sea. The secondary bedrooms in the first floor with different layouts are relatively smaller than the size of master bedrooms, but the courtyard and patio are introduced to extend the bedroom space outward. The basement is equipped with living affiliated functions such as the living room and the spare bedrooms. The sunken courtyard makes them well lighted and ventilated. The fair-faced concrete is used as the primary building material. On one hand, the concrete material is suitable for costal weather in the aspect of the duration, on the other hand, the owners have affection for this material since they have their own concrete station, so the quality can be well monitored in the process of the construction. The pouring of the concrete wall adopts a small formwork of natural pine wood, and the horizontal wood grain is in line with the horizontal flow of small-scale spaces. After the materials are concise and unified, it turns out that the building itself becomes the background, instead, the space becomes the protagonist, which has a higher value. For the auxiliary materials of the project, we use a range of warm-colored materials, such as outdoor bamboo panels, brass components, wood-colored doors and windows systems, etc.. Special attention is paid to the appropriate use of the interior materials. In the public areas, we retain a certain amount of fair-faced concrete walls without any additional decoration. For the residential part, we mostly use stucco, sycamore veneer, bamboo flooring, teak furniture and other soft materials. Therefore, a certain balance is achieved between the “warm” interior materials and the “cold” concrete, refined and restrained. For the houses centered with the courtyards, plants are essential for landscaping. After the planting is completed, the courtyard space has undergone a fundamental change, and the plain fair-faced concrete wall has also become a curtain for the shadows of the trees. Most importantly, the growth of vegetation over the time creates a time and memory bond that would probably meet the owners’ expectation of relaying this space to their future generations. This is also an excellent demonstration of the ecological sustainability. The origin of The Flowing Garden is not only from the concrete material itself, but also a metaphor of the flowing space and the state of owners’quiet and peaceful life. The project's design and construction has been lasted for 5 years. It had gone through a series of adaptations from simpleness to complexities and then from complexities to simpleness, just like a journey slowly approaching the essence of life.
More Than Arch Studio is located in Xiamen, China.
We not only stick to the architecture, but also concern all the factors beyond it. We have a user’s experience focus and conduct a deep study on the series of the architectural issues centered on the “Space”. We promote the whole process which starts from the architecture, and extends to landscape, interior and furnishing design.
In the initial phase of the design, we focus on the rigorous logic and the ability to problem analysis and solving. In the middle phase, we explore the possibility of balancing the value of the aesthetics and the economy. In the final phase, we closely focus on the materials properties, the structures and the implementation and quality control of on-site construction.
“More Than Architecture” conveys more attention should be paid in our daily life beyond the architecture itself for us, the architects. A keen understanding and experience of our life is the solid foundation of building a good house.