The Flowing Garden designed by More Than Arch Studio is radically different from most of contemporary private houses in China. Located in Zhang Zhou, China, the owners of the house, who are two entrepreneur brothers requested for a unique home that reflect their lifestyles individually.
“The owners intend to build a private house composed of three parts: two independent residential spaces for each brother’s family and a leisure space for gathering, meeting, fitness and other activities. In addition, the brothers hope that the newly-built house would be the space carrier of the whole family memories from generation to generation,” the architect says.
The property is set within a 3-acre rectangular residential land with short sides on the north and south. To maximise the site and surrounding views, the design focuses on the courtyard space and landscaping in the interior space.
“The climate in Southern Fujian is generally warm. Since ancient times, the use of courtyards has been the normal practice of local traditional residential houses. The courtyard not only improves the environmental conditions, but also creates the natural division and transition between the leisure and residential space, provoking a sense of continuous spatial flow across different areas. Most importantly, the growth of vegetation over time creates a time and memory bond that would probably meet the owners’ expectation of relaying this space to their future generations,” the architect elaborates.
With vague boundaries of the different areas, the courtyard flows in between the rooms. Residents can step up the stone stairs at the northeast entrance first, lean in under the eaves, and move through a series of contracting and stretching spatial sequences such as the entrance space, the central pond yard, the ribbon courtyard, etc., then pass through the south side of the buildings to the lower corridor that reaches the terrace, until the whole view is fully stretched out.
Where the courtyard takes on a dynamic approach, the central pond yard creates a peaceful atmosphere. Around the pond yard are a tea room and a grand dining room with the best views. The tea room faces south and the pond yard, with a platform extending to the water, adding a sense of lightness. The inner courtyard behind the tea room strips away the volume of the two-story building on the site’s north, giving the tea space a sense of transparency.
Inside, the grand dining room holds two round tables for ten people to meet the need of large family gatherings during festivals. It can be fully opened on the side facing the corridor, and its back is connected with the inner patio, which enhances the fluidity of the space and the sense of depth.
The indoor heated pool is placed in the basement. The sunken courtyard with multiple openings together with the waterscape skylight above the swimming pool bring in ample light. Furthermore, several guest bedrooms are arranged on the second floor to the north side of the leisure part. The rooms are small but cosy, abound with the lovely garden views. In the north of the site, the two residential units are combined into a whole building but separate inside. The respective entrance halls facing the ribbon courtyard are staggered appropriately to create the privacy when entering.
“The design of the Flowing Garden explores the use of contemporary materials construction to create a modern residential space with the traditional style and spiritual core. The origin of the project’s name is not only from the concrete material itself, but also a metaphor of the flowing space and the state of owners’ quiet and peaceful life,” shares the architect. “The project’s design and construction have lasted for 5 years. It had gone through a series of adaptations from simpleness to complexities and then from complexities to simpleness, just like a journey slowly approaching the essence of life. Life carries on, which is an ever-changing process. This is what we called flowing daily life.”