*난토우 게스트 하우스 [ Neri&Hu Design and Research Office ] Nantou City Guesthouse

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Neri&Hu Design and Research Office-Nantou City Guesthouse
네리&후 디자인 연구 사무소-난터우 시티 게스트하우스
Urban Village, or cheng-zhong-cun, is a phenomenon where the remnants of pre-industrial settlements are nestled amidst a seemingly modern metropolis. Nantou City, the site of Neri&Hu’s adaptive reuse project for an eleven-room guesthouse, is an example of such an urban village. Situated at the heart of Shenzhen, a burgeoning city with astonishing growth, Nantou City has evolved from a well-heeled ancient capital to the overcrowded inner city it is now. Visitors today are immediately immersed in the tightly knit alleys, plazas, and dead-ends, where residents, street vendors, unsupervised children, nomads alike roam.

Inspired by the vibrant milieu of the alleyways in Nantou City, the project seeks to reflect on the cultural heritage of the mundane. Scenes of every day—people, objects, and their settings are the primary source material for design. To celebrate life in the urban village, the existing structure was cut into massing strategy, allowing such “urban incisions” to foster a new public realm on the inside of the previously private apartment block. At the same time, the excavation revealed the many material layers and building structures as if at an archeological site, only to allow new interventions to instigate unexpected dialogues between the past and the present.

Throughout the research and design process for the Nantou City Guesthouse, Svetlana Boym’s writings on the topic of reflective nostalgia have guided the thinking behind the project. Rather than simply mimicking the past for its superficial material effects, the project has sought to unearth the possibilities of certain kinds of past that could invigorate our contemporary culture. A tectonic language was developed to articulate two divergent treatments that probe the notion of urban layering and the embracing of fragments: that of light, screen like cladding as the major façade element, and the other a heavier, expressive assemblage to contrast as a skyline “capping” atop.

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