Given sufficient square footage, homes typically feature dedicated spaces for children and grown-ups.
Play rooms, entertainment dens, study corners – these ensure that the various needs of family members are met. And often, these spaces are situated next to one another so that adult supervision is never absent or far away. A kitchen, for example, overlooks the living room where the children play.
For this family home, in Shanghai's Yangpu district in China, architecture firm Atelier D+Y took an unusual approach to bringing such spaces to life.
Instead of merely setting children- and adult-specific areas next to one another, the architectural firm integrated them – so that the children get to relax as the adults relax, entertain themselves as the adults do, and so forth.
With two kids, the couple naturally wanted spaces they could all share. The house, 2,800sqft in size, started with a prohibitive layout.
“The kitchen was set on the second floor, which was very inconvenient – it was impossible to take care of the children while cooking,” describes architect Guo Donghai, founder of Atelier D+Y. There was also limited room for the children to play, as well as insufficient storage space.
The kitchen, thus, was relocated to the first floor to join the dining room, improving the house's flow and circulation. The space follows the north entrance to the home, and connects to the outdoors through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
In the living room, a play area was built for the kids – complete with a sunken couch, a slide, a hammock, and a window-like perch, formed by a circular opening that has been carved out of the second-floor wall. “Considering that children are fond of hiding and crawling through openings, the small spaces that are unusable by the adults have been designed as children's activity areas,” describes Guo.
Opposite the play area, a sitting space complete with a sofa and bookshelf lets both the kids and grown-ups share the living space while unwinding. “A reasonable integration of children’s activities and adult activities demanded a simple design language,” says Guo.
Connecting the lower and upper levels is a staircase demarcated by white walls that contribute to the house’s contemporary geometric motif.
Meanwhile, the second floor was transformed into a family room, home to a piano for the kids and an entertainment system for family movie nights.
Situated on the third level is the kids’ room, with its own wardrobe and television.
Additional storage space was also created in the form of a mezzanine in the fourth floor master bedroom. Originally a narrow suite, the architects redid the space to clear out the roof-height ceilings and accommodate an extra level.
The master bedroom also connects to a bathroom, complete with a sunken tub and a shower area; a toilet; and a cloakroom.
Subtle Japanese-inspired touches of light wood, white walls, and restrained colour palettes permeate much of the home. The family room, for its part, is enlivened with more colour, by way of the navy and yellow seating. High ceilings add volume to the rooms, while a sense of family togetherness can be gathered throughout the purpose-defined areas of the house's updated layout.
It’s ultimately the family’s favourite aspect of the home. “The adults can play with their children and be close to their children as they are growing up. At the same time, the adults have their own space,” says Guo. “All their activities can be combined in the spatial dimensions, interacting with one another while being relatively independent.”
Photography by Envaner, courtesy of Atelier D+Y