Paper House

Paper House

Wutopia Lab
the Sun commune, Linan, China
Private Houses
CHEN Jie and ZHU Chen

Paper House

Wutopia Lab as Designers

Standstill for Scenery: Paper house which could be anywhere Allusion We are going to build a kind of small temporary building, which was made of paper or silk with wood or bamboo in Sketches of ancient literati in Song or Ming dynasty.It was consisted of pre-constructed units which can be built quicklyand turn to be a teahouse or a kiosk for dining when those literati find beautiful sceneryduring their trip. These notesattracted architect’s attention, Mr. Yudecided to imitate a paper house with bamboo frame according to those old notes.

Likeness Mr. Yu didn’t want to fully replicate a house in recordation, because it was unnecessary. The detail and basic frame could be redesigned if it was needed. He wanted to create likeness between his new work and recordation by rewriting the detail and basic frame according to actual conditions.

Silhouettes The air in Yangtze River Delta called Jingnan is always filled with moisture, so the ancient local artists developed a kind of distinctive aesthetic thing by depicting Silhouettes rather than emphasizing light and shadow.Mr. Yu chose the local handmade oiled paper as containment material to express silhouettes.

Principle This paper house must be light, removable, dismountable and easy to build with reproducible module.

Site Because architect Chen Haoru has already practiced bamboo architecture cooperating with local craftsman in Sun communewhich is close to Mr. Chen’s place in Hangzhou, Mr. Yu chose a piece of place near a reservoirin commune with Mr. Chen’s help.

Fault tolerance Although Mr. Chen spent a lot of time on training local bamboo craftsman how to construct bamboo building,the craftsman still couldn’t understand architectural drawing very well sometime. It will be more effective to communicate with traditional axonometric hand drawing than blueprints.This drawing displays an approximately result for the craftsman who can adjust details according to actual situation. It conforms to Chinese old construction way which we called fault tolerance.

Construct Mr. Yu invited young sculptor Zhu Chen who studied technology of traditional bamboo kite to deepen the design and to be in charge of project on the spot. Mr. Zhu designed a drainage system made of bamboo for this house. He worked with local craftsman and discussed how to adjust the detail when facing issues and meanwhile kept likeness according to idea of founding the Sun commune. The paper house was done within 7 days at last.

Cost The cost of 8-square meters paper house was RMB7500 (1200 us dollar) including labor charges and fee of material. It was paid by Mr. Yu as lab fund.

Display Mr. Yu entrusted Miss Sun Tian who is researcher of ancient art history to call up a tea feast in paper house. Mr. Chen Jie, one of Sun’s friend, decorated it with his collections. They spent one afternoon in this translucence brittle-looking house, chatting, having tea and taking pictures. Mr. Zhu said he forgot his ambition and time at that moment when he slept on the bed in sunshine filtered by oiled paper.

Verification Mr. Yu wanted to test 3 conjectures with paper house project. Frist: whether ancient literature is reliable. Second: whether it could be rewrite by contemporary craft and design. Third: the spirit of teahouse in Ming Dynasty islightheartedness not rite.

Standstill Even with the name the lightest house, the paper houseborerainstorm, blizzardand the blazing sun over one year, and it is still there. Mr. Yu named it Standstill for Scenery which shows Chinese aesthetics. All the tough and heavy work turn out in an easy way.

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Project Credits
Extension Charred wood Yakisugi
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Extension Charred wood Yakisugi

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