Suzhou is a historic city in China established in 514 BC. Situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and the shores of Lake Tai, its geographic location has made it one of the most prosperous cities in history. Canals, stone bridges, pagodas and classic gardens have stand here thousands of years and are still making the city a very popular tourist attraction until today.
Currently as one of the most economic developed cities in Urban China, Suzhou over the years has expanded with new modern development zones to the east and west while conserving the center historic downtown part as heritage. Old houses, streets and canals are preserved and some turned into pedestrian malls for citizens and tourists to experience the authenticity of the city.
Traditionally in the city, vernacular dwellings line up along the grid of canals, so streets and canals become the public corridor of city life while those white washed walls and black clay tile roofs become background on the canvas. Privacy works perfect for dwellers in the old time, but nowadays when they become pedestrian mall and individual gift shops, I think it’s worthwhile to explore another opportunity to engage more with the public with the vernacular vocabulary.
This project borrows the local vernacular massing, but interpret it in a public and transparent way: Traditional roof tiles are laid as translucent facade and wide pedestrian bridge/platform is integrated to maximize the public space. An outline of the section cut of the context on the facade highlights the locality and vernacular feature of the place. For this vernacular building, once was private becomes public and I believe as long as people start to gather and social in this place, it will become a catalyst of greater things.