• View from arrival area
  • Elevation
  • Roof plan view
  • View of four house types

Ong House

This remains an unfinished project for an odd house. It was our attempt to wrangle with the programmatic peculiarities of the “multi-generational Chinese house.” In this case, the house was designed for an active extended family of four siblings and their children. It is a funny typology for a building–more than a “house,” but not quite an apartment building, it presented some unique points of difficulty and interest.

The goal, here, was to harvest the uniquely inter-dependent mode of living that characterizes this sort of family life. While we had to allow for individual rooms for private family time, certain facilities (such as the kitchen and entertainment areas) could be shared. In fact, the sharing is preferred, as this allows the children to play together and the adults to enjoy a high quality of household amenities by pooling resources.

Due to the constraints of the site, the building had to push upwards; in effect, we were charged with building four homes where only a large bungalow could stand comfortably. In order to achieve this, this “super-house” was conceived as four small vertical buildings that share a common floor at the middle. The latter contains a large kitchen, dining area, and living room.

Of interest, in particular, was the odd interface that takes place between four houses and the single shared area–thus the “arrival” at the main floor of the private blocks was a site of heightened design attention. We enjoyed this particular puzzle, at it articulates a lot of the interesting micro-ambiguities of this type of lifestyle, its fine balances between privacy and open-ness, individuality and collectivity.