ADS5: Camping in a High Rise
Nettie Mohan Ni
Nettie obtains a persistent level of curiosity and fascination with architectural spatial typologies. In her past collection of works, there has been a constant search for unique spatial qualities created with experimentations in materiality, structure, light and spatial divisions. For Nettie, making architecture is like conducting a chemistry experiment. By adding spices of architectural languages, portions of solutions to problems, the product is induced by a fusion of her burning passion and love for the Art.
Before joining the RCA, Nettie graduated with Distinction from Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of New South Wales in 2016. During the undergraduate studies, Nettie has obtained a persistent record of high distinctions across design studio projects, with regular yearly achievements of the Faculty of Built Environment Dean’s Merit List. Nettie’s final Bachelor graduation studio project, ‘Earth and Sky’, taught by UNSW Regional Studio, led by Glenn Murcutt, was named ‘Regional Winner of Oceania’ and ‘Highly Commanded’ by the Global Undergraduate Award (UA) in 2017 for the Architecture and Design Category. After graduation, Nettie has worked for Dunn & Hillam Architects as an assistant architect on projects from residential to public scale. Projects involved include Sydney Dance Company, Camden Amenities and the Gunnery Refurbishment conceptual design. In addition, Nettie has also worked at LYCS Architecture in Hangzhou. She is currently a freelancer graphic designer at Inbetween Creatives.
Being born in China and raised in Australia, Nettie has developed a great interest in observing the state of Chinese cultural phenomenons. She seeks to discover of the architectural spatial affiliation with such cultural phenomenons in its relationship to the social and political context. Nettie’s project this year, ‘Vertical Neighbourhood: A Kindergarten for Empty Nesters’ articulates her interest in exploring the architectural spatial relationships of the post-Chinese Communist district neighbourhoods inhabitations. In understanding and by studying and learning from the current and past spatial organisation of old neighbourhood streets, the fostered human interconnections have been the driver of Nettie’s project this year. It seeks to question how could such human dynamic be realised in a high-rise typology and adopted to a vertical spatial organisation.
ADS 5 this year and its working methodology has been assisting Nettie greatly with the development of her personal project. By satisfying her curiosity and desire for spatial explorations, the project began with an intuitive search for spatial principles in which evolves into a 1:20 principle model. Inhabitation and emerging subjectivities are then studied to enrich the project with program. Rendering has been a great tool to facilitate with the articulation of the project this year, especially in the context of the Global pandemic. Along with the facilitation of the stop motion film, the lives of the building interior are realised and portrayed through movement and sound.
Elevation | Co-existence with Neighbourhood
Plan | Typical Floor Plan — The elderly rooms are divided in regular spaces efficiently along the tangents of the triangular floor space, while the balcony space shared among three bedrooms become a small moment of excess, a meeting place among the elderlies.
Section | Cross Section — Conversations between floors are conducted through an interplay of double height spaces forms the spatial language of the building. A conversation between the elderly balconies to the ramps, retirement home to kindergarten spaces, constantly varying in scale from private to public and visa versa.
Neighbourhood Studies — Learning from the old neighbourhood ways of inhabitation, such as the da-za-yuan phenomenon in Beijing, old courtyard houses were overpopulated by proletarian families. Due to the limitation of the private space. Daily life begins to leak out into the public spaces. Yet this way of inhabitation, particularly familiar to this generation of empty nesters, resembles the fact that the room has become a tent. A place of shelter, where the left over narrow streets, the spaces of excess, become fascinating spaces for where intertwining social interactions take place.
A vertical neighbourhood designed for the elderly and the kids in Hangzhou manifests itself in an encapsulation of retirement home facilities and day care centres for kindergarten children.
Situated in the old city centre of Hangzhou, the project pays tribute to the disappearing old neighbourhoods and the associated ways of inhabitation. My project seeks to explore a new form of high-rise typology in which social connectivity among individuals can be celebrated with a richness in scale and nodes of interaction conducted through form and space.
Along with a triangular plan, my building consists of a ramp around the perimeter, enclosing and connecting layers of interlocking floor plates that form a spatial module with variations articulated across three floors for residential and kindergarten purposes. The triangular geometry becomes a grid, a primary medium which allows for the generosity to divide spaces according to efficiency, while also allowing for irregular moments of excess.
The building provides an intertwining intersection of vertical spaces. Conversations between floors, that are conducted through an interplay of double height spaces, form the spatial language of the building. A spatial discourse between the elderly balconies and the ramps, the retirement home and kindergarten spaces, that are constantly varying in scale from private to public. It is almost rotational and chaotic, yet composes an acoustic ensemble and visual affiliation, with a constant awareness of each other. Spaces unfold in layers, from the exterior to the interior, allowing one's eyes to follow the diagonal tangents of the triangular beams, connecting one to another moment of excess. The ramp is an internalised street, a ‘living room’ space for the beholders. Life extends out from the singular ‘shelters’ of the elderly bedroom units and leak out to the public ‘street’ for the elderly and the kids alike. It lands upon an open, continuous and interwoven living belt for all residents across the floor, forming an invited moment of irregularity, a stage for daily life to perform across vertically.