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Shanghai East Garden
Shanghai, 2022
517 units social housing integrated with lush landscape and public space.

Client: Shanghai Housing Guarantee and House Management Bureau 

Site Area: 21480 m²

Total Area: 53410 m²

Type: Multiple Residential

Status: Concept

Principal Architect: Xie Jie

Team: Deng Jun-Wen

The Shanghai Government plans to build 500 units of affordable housing on a 2.1-hectare plot in Pudong, allowing young people to merge into the city life better. In fact, affordable housing has a long history globally, and some precedents have gradually turned affordable housing neighborhoods into undervalued areas. On the other hand, successful cases often provide their own value for surroundings, not relying solely on government subsidies but growing with other neighborhoods in the area. Based on this vision, we hope "Shanghai East Garden" also grows naturally within the city, even without the financial support from government. Meanwhile, high-density residential buildings of various eras have decisively shaped the common appearance of the city that we see everyday. As such, we have decided to adopt a contemporary design strategy with the use of distinctive Shanghai character. We will also explore how the historical urban character itself influences the design of affordable housing. In retrospect of the progress of the Shanghai housing development, circular exterior balconies are quite common in various types of residential buildings with Shanghai characteristics. Buildings like the Willow Court Apartment and Magy Apartments from the 1930s featured balconies, either large or small, with circular curved shapes that created distinctive facades and extended indoor living spaces to outdoors. Beginning in the 1990s, high-rise residential towers and slab buildings in large-scale urban development have also been adept at using circular balconies to create a curved theme in the urban landscape. Taking this circular elements to the extreme is the Torre Blancas, designed and built by Spanish architect Francisco Javier Saenz de Oiza in the late 1960s. Inspired by these precedents, the Shanghai East Garden project uses circular balconies extend along the street and in two directions along the tower, adding vitality to the urban interface. These curved exterior balcony spaces also bring enjoyment to the interior spaces. The green ceramic tiles give the façade a friendly and tactile scale, while adding a sense of relaxation and elegance, much like a pixelated image of the tree lined streets of Shanghai. They also complement a cost-effective and low maintenance way to complete the curved exterior façade. With a site aiming FAR of 2.5, Shanghai East Garden holds 514 units of two-bedroom apartments with 70 square meters and one-bedroom apartments with 50 square meters, all arranged in four towers in the northeast corner of the site and L-shaped high-rise slab buildings along the southwest street. Each of the four towers rotates at a certain angle to ensure good spacing, sun light, and views. The roof tops of the street-side slab buildings are further designed with undulating public platforms, creating a flexible and varied overall urban profile. The meandering podium of Shanghai East Garden connect the four towers and the street-side slab buildings, forming two complete blocks on the ground level and outlining the central public main street and three more private curved pocket gardens. Below the four towers, there are double-height spaces for a youth art gallery/studio, shared office space, childcare facilities, and coffee shops, creating a vibrant urban corridor with other retails and restaurants. The second-floor platform features greenery, outdoor activity areas, and groups of solar panels that can supplement the daily energy for community public facilities. The four unit types in the Shanghai East Garden project are developed from two prototypes and offer the possibility of future alternation. The slab buildings along the street consist of two-bedroom and one-bedroom units, with good lighting and views from the living room, kitchen, and the ensuite main bathroom. Curved balconies connect the rooms, and provide indoor lighting windows. When viewed from the city streets, these prominent green circular discs create a lively and vibrant urban impression. The high-rise buildings primarily feature two-bedroom units with bright corner curved living rooms, each with 270-degree floor-to-ceiling windows. The circular balconies of the towers provide the possibility of free opening and enclosure glass panels which are suitable for the local climate. The interior design, as part of the overall scheme, uses materials primarily in light green and white paint and fire-resistant timber finishes. A complete interior renovation manual allows residents to freely customize finishes beyond the default options.

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