Shikumen Residence
BKC 02 - 25 - 2010

The Shikumen Residences of Shanghai exhibit key sustainable design principles regarding light, geometry/planning, materials, and economic viability. First, the Shikumen residences are oriented along an east-west axis, enabling southern light to enter through large south facing windows. Small north facing windows allow light while also reducing heat loss. To help light the interior of the residence, an interior light well occurs over the second floor stairwell. The walls framing this light well also have windows, enabling borrowed light to enter both of the adjacent rooms (image right). Not only do the houses function as individual units, they can be repeated next to eachother along an axis, providing daylight to all houses aligned in a row. When rows of these residences are repeated, a street is formed between the rows, providing axis and height clearance enough for daylight (image right). The construction of the houses uses local stone for the exterior walls while wood serves the purpose of the roof materials. In each case, the material use ideally fits the task it must perform. A lighter material for roofing and floor loads, a stronger material for protective exterior walls and load bearing walls (image right). The residences also succeed because they enable economic opportunities. Each residence has a small courtyard that can be opened to the street, allowing the house to become a shop during the day, taking advantage of passing pedestrian and cart traffic. Furthermore, the house has two distinct halves, allowing it to function as a duplex if necessary (image below). The Shikumen Residences exhibit many sustainable features that allow it to function in harmony with nature and with the life of the city of Shanghai.

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