Compiled by Teresa Simon
Photography: Hannah Wu; People’s Architecture Office; courtesy the architects
Read Time: 2 mins
How would you like to own a mobile home and add on to it at will, without spending huge sums of money on associated mandates? People's Architecture Office designs a modular home to fulfil this very need...
In Shenzhen China, where land is held exclusively by the government and the construction of private homes is reserved for the very wealthy, People's Architecture Office have worked out a solution called ‘Plug-in Tower’. Invited by a real estate developer to tackle the ‘future of housing’ through an experimental built work to commemorate Vanke’s inaugural design event that explores a pressing architectural theme each year, the architects addressed the grim issue of insecurity of private home ownership in the country.
Classified as a temporary structure and installed at Vanke’s headquarters in Shenzhen, the concept of the Plugin Tower is largely based on pre-fab, modularity and mobility. It therefore primarily negates the requirement of an underground foundation, thereby circumventing the strict planning approval for permanent structures and easing the requirements for building a private house.
Consequently, it curtails the investment necessary for building a home since it excludes the risk of losing one’s property: residents can pack up their homes and take them along if they are ever forced to relocate. Moreover, the prefab system is designed for multi-storeys - being infinitely expandable.
The Metabolist-inspired Plugin Tower comprises a steel space frame, and a kit of parts that can be assembled in endless variations. Empty bays within the frame are plugged with living units, and can be altered and unplugged, when necessary.
Units are made with PAO’s proprietary Plugin Panel system, modules that incorporate insulation, wiring, plumbing, interior and exterior finishes into one moulded part. Panels are attached with integrated locks, designed to be easily installed by a couple of unskilled people with just a hex wrench. Unlike with shipping containers, Plugin Panels allow living spaces to be added without heavy machinery, and do not restrict their layouts to the shape of a box. This gives the homeowner the flexibility to play with form and gratify his imaginative forays.
The experimental built form that was completed in September 2016 is proposed as a flexible design option that can easily adapt to changing needs and fluctuating conditions.