‘Organic’ Home: Evolving and Growing Co-living in the Future
With the development of economy and the serious differentiation of social class, especially the change of family structure, human living space is facing challenges and changes. To response this crisis, contemporary architects put forward the new residential mode of co-living. The present shared house is purposeful, and it has successfully gathered people together through a series of goals: social yearning, economic apportionment, convenient and relatively cheap housing solutions.
Time will produce a force, and architecture can not resist this power, but must be able to adapt to it from various aspects such as technology, money, fashion, social behavior and so on. Most of the co-living is based on the collapse of the existing building and rebuild a new one from the beginning. However, for a more resource-constrained future, we may be able to establish co-living from another starting point.
What I want to do is to adopt the concept of metabolism to reshape the internal space of this building and enable it to constantly change according to the needs of the residents. Firstly, I studied some major cases about metabolism in Japan, and found that the declaration of this movement redefined several crucial relationships in design: order/chaos, permanence/transience, collective/individual, planning/spontaneity. Kiyomori Kikutake, a representative architect of the metabolic school, also summarized the three main concepts of his design as follows: order, type/pattern, form.
As for my understanding, I think that the three main characteristics of metabolic works include: sense of order and regularity, systematic, a combination/arrangement of one element. If expressed in plane / space language, gridding is just the form to better reveal these three characteristics
I choose a very famous super high-rise building in Suzhou, China as my experimental plot. The construction of building was interrupted several times because of the extremely high cost, and the occupancy rate was extremely low because the house price was much higher than the local average after construction. It is not difficult to predict that this building will likely become an empty building or even an abandoned building in the future. After a thorough study of the modern residential space in China, I will use the two most basic steps of metabolizing, that is, decomposition and re-synthesis. I will grid the building and start rebuilding the internal space of the building from a point or an area. With the continuous improvement of the residents with high autonomy, the whole building will be slowly infiltrated like the process of cell metabolism, and eventually become a continuously renewed building. Moreover, this metabolizing will continue and even develop new meaning that I did not design.
For the new dwelling formats that come into being at present, the shared residence becomes the most popular word. Shared residences of different sizes and scales emerged as the times require. It seems that shared residences serve as a magic weapon for us to deal with social problems in the future. But if we consider from another angle, perhaps shared residences have solved the social problems that we will deal with. For the future where resources will become increasingly scarce, is it an appropriate way for us to deal with future crises by overthrowing existing residences and rebuilding this new building model from scratch?
Although the movement failed because the scale of the city’s conception was too “huge”—megastructural and did not conform to the social and technological development at that time.(Another reason for failure is that metabolic architects are not professional urban planners, nor do they have the administrative power to implement their planning ideas.) However, I think no essential difference exists between looking forward to the future from the perspective of the architect at that time and looking forward to the future from the perspective of the current time node for that we are all facing various problems brought about by the rapid development of society. The idea of applying the concept of metabolism to the interior design, reducing the scale of the huge urban construction and considering the housing problem of human unit families may be an effective way.
The emergence of metabolism and urban utopia movement is a special concept that regards the city as an organic evolution process. Is it not a means of applying metabolism in the interior design if I transform and change the existing residential buildings from one point inside, find a cell-like unit, make the whole interior of the building look brand through continuous decomposition and combination and build the house into a new living space that can meet the needs of future residents.
Let’s look back at the current living conditions in most cities. Due to the blind pursuit of capital and high-end buildings, more and more buildings have become empty upon completion and have been eliminated without being abandoned, and a large amount of land and space have been wasted. At the same time, people are constantly changing their own houses because of the increase in the number of family members, changes in economic conditions, the relocation of workplaces and other reasons. In this process, a lot of resources and money have been wasted, much energy has been used for migration and renewal, and the living space lacks basic sustainability. In the future, with the decrease of resources, people may not be able to migrate. When facing the situation that many family members live in a corner, more people may be homeless. These and other conditions have greatly increased the unstable factors of society and brought burdens to the city. Therefore, my design will start with a pilot building, and the co-living form eventually advocated will cover the entire city, making it easier to migrate. The “home” can be open or compact as family members change, and “home” will follow the development of architecture and the city in order to create a long-term sense of material satisfaction and bring a permanent sense of spiritual sustenance.