Zao House


An exhibit of student project “Zao House” from the Tsinghua SIGS Institute for Future Human Habitat Studies (iFHHs) opened on January 9 at Dawan Ancestral Residence as part of the opening ceremony for the Pingshan subvenue “Dawan Unplugged” of the Ninth Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB). The project was advised by Professors Terrence Curry, Peter Russell, and Gao Yan, also one of main curators of “Dawan Unplugged.”

The Master of Architecture students from the SIGS Institute for Future Human Habitat Studies (iFHHs) have answered the call for buildings that are more sustainable, economical, and easily constructed. The students of Design Studio 1, under the guidance of Professors Terrence Curry, Yan Gao, and Peter Russell, have diligently worked over the fall semester to design, manufacture, and construct extraordinary modular home prototypes.

A modular design is defined as a system divided into smaller units for flexibility and variety of use. Due to its high adaptability, low cost, and easy-to-construct nature, the concept is well-suited to solve modern architectural challenges such as historical site infills and disaster relief rebuilding.

In Design Studio 1, each professor guided a group of 5 to 6 students; each group took a different approach to modular design. Professor Curry’s group focused on a component-based system, where a set of standardized and interchangeable steel and timber components were designed to inter-relate, while Professor Gao’s group focused on timber joinery in a hybrid structure comprised of timber frames and concrete blocks. Lastly, Professor Russell’s group developed a parametric design inspired by the UK-based WikiHouse concept, which is a house composed of interlocked blocks made from plywood sheets.

Photos: Li Zhou and Xinyi Zhang