Minus-K House by KUU

Satoko Saeki and Kok-Meng Tan of the Shanghai based firm KUU designed a duplex composed of a normal dwelling for the family of a worker combined with a weekend house for the owner of a slipper factory in the compound of the firm’s warehouse. The designers based their layout on 19 squares, each three by three meters, to form an irregular grid.

A shared table forms the centre of the duplex. Two kitchen squares and two courtyards are placed diagonally at each corner of the table, enabling the residents to face each other while cooking through an opening in the central cross of the walls.

The relationship between public and private recalls the experience normal Chinese people had until recently with shared kitchen, bathroom or communal courtyards and semi public collective neighbourhood streets.


With six double high units and five courts, the open and the closed cubes create a playful interaction between inside and outside, between vertical and horizontal.

The functional arrangement and the rigidity of the basic layout creates a structure that can be used by each resident in a very personal way, but offers at the same time opportunities for communication or retreat by very simple means.

To blur the notion of inside and outside, the walls are unplastered and have the same rough look in both locations. The red bricks and the ceiling made of concrete are simply painted white. A part of the floors and the furniture are made of wood, carefully designed, to fit into the space arrangement.

In contrast to the formal expressions usually found in the design of a private house, this duplex is created with local handcraft and is rooted in the need of the resident.

This building was awarded the 27th Shinkenchiku Award in 2011.

Reference: http://www.chinese-architects.com


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