Slope House prototype

Related Staff : Olivier Ottevaere

The Slope House prototype is an educational engagement with real life construction.

It presents students the unique opportunity to experience the construction of a real project while inhabiting it. The project investigates how material systems, structural logics and spatial ideas can translate from a design proposition all the way to a built architecture space; a fully functioning house.

It is a further development of a MArch fall design studio 2018 titled ‘Village House Prototype, from Concept to Construction’, experimenting with materials in practice as well as suitable building technologies for rural construction in China.

Eight design schemes were first developed by students during the course of a semester-long design studio. The proposals revisit the typology of a house on a sloped terrain, located between mountains and farming fields, in Guizhou province, China. Each student’s project rethinks architecture’s relation to fierce nature, in search of a new living typology demarked by two different material systems: a concrete ground foundation and timber roof structure.

One chosen scheme was further detailed by students to be constructed during a MArch elective in summer 2019, with a team of local builders. It is part of a bigger umbrella with many stakeholders (architects, planners, landscape architects) commissioned by the central Chinese government to rethink the revitalization of the countryside; one that is design-led through this ambitious pilot project. The HKU house will serve as one of the contributions to this larger construct of ideas on the topic.

The house’s construction is sponsored by the local government of Guizhou and is curated by Urban Environment Design magazine (UED Beijing) and China Building Centre (CBC Beijing), presenting an alternative educational platform for township construction in China.

To prototype (‘first-strike’ in Greek) a house in this specific context has the potential to open up a series of chain changes in larger rural areas and to generalize more pragmatic results; benefiting the local industry, injecting new social and cultural resources in the area and promoting new economic conditions.

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