Compression, Motion and Transient Flat 
Design Research: Expanding Traditional Plane & Interactive Rolling Space,  2014
Team Work: He Chendi , Sheng Xichen, Wu Xueqi

Collage Drawing | A Continuous Experience of Spatial Sequence and Time (in tribute to Diller + Renfro)

A Rolling House

Started with a concept of space folding compression, expanding the traditional plane, transient life and rolling motion, in retrospect of the topics of 'Minimalism' and 'Time, body and motion' , we accomplished a thesis research of a Shifting House, and coped with  the technical difficulties in the wake of the process of perfecting the function.

This project turns out to be a controversial but inspiring one. It's not only an optimized  design in an extreme condition, but also a discussion about the relation between human body, motion, space and time, and the nature of Architecture.


As the developing capital production infiltrated into every walk of lives, disciplines focusing on maximizing the labor efficiency in mechanism, such as Taylorism and Fordism. With the expanding global capitalism, the advanced technology and the abuses of multimedia, 'Live with Minimalism' and 'Time, Body and Motion' became some new topics.

Live with Minimalism

Asceticism is everywhere, from the ideological foundation of Minimalism to the concept of  social housing. Max Webber believed that asceticism provided people the ability to adapt to the fast changing space in the society of endless capitalism, as a living way restrictively following the rational code. 

Hannes Meyer's Co-op Zimmer(1924) demonstrated his understanding of the minimum housing unit as an ideal living style. The housing space are designed in the form of  ‘Tabula Rasa’ ,  nothing but the phonograph was redundant. House of individual provides a private space of more possibilities that already vanished in socialized lives. With compressed living space and time, life again gained the attribute of purity and itself  turned into an dynamic art work with a sense of ritual. But it’s ironic that a lot of people have to lead a austere life in modern society, thus Minimalism becomes a criticism of the status quo more than a  aesthetic need.

Time, Gravity and Motion

The Chronophotography invented by Etienne-Jules Marey, reveals the inner connection of human body, motion and time. But most of time our consciousness are more occupied by the still space rather than the perception of the relation between our body motion, gravity and the time.  The scene of rolling fight in movie Inception inspired me, that the simultaneous motion of body and space can actually fortify the perception of such relation. And our shifting house bonds our body, time and space through the motion mechanism.

Space Compression and Transient Flat

From the perspective of space, normally the most frequently used plane is the one on which we stand, meanwhile the interior facade are wasted. While a Shifting House changes the meaning of plane that these interior facades could also function as plane. Beause we don't need to use two rooms together alone as well as we don't need to close the Dumchamp's doors at the same time.
If we can make full use of each plane( including the walls as facades ) of a house, a new mode of  more efficient space usage can be generated. 

Once the house is shifted, user will enter another room. The form of Shifting House corresponds to an transient life mode: user’s activity is tightly connected with the state of the house. Which also means 'Focus attention on the work at hand'.

Diagram | Plane Space Folding

Consistency And Invisible Panopticism

The drawing on the top of the page is a diagram shows how user's activity changes with time in a day, especially in this house. The red chart indicates the time length one uses each function flat. 
Time corresponds to the change of space and life routine, the string of continuous sections shows the daily life and the transform of shifting space through a man's view when he walks from flat to flat, while the starry sky presents the sleeping time in a day. So the status of the user inside can be indicated by the phase of the house. The consistency is not only about time, space and motion, it also reveals the consistency of architecture and human body.

Therefore people outside the house can judge from the transient asymmetric facade to identify which flat the user’s using and can decide if they could visit him/her the moment without peeking inside. This is what we call an ‘Invisible Panopticism’ , as a potential bond between the individual and the community.

Model Study | Trace and Movement Study

Diagram Matrix| Volume Calculation and Details of Shifting Condition Phases

Integration of Furniture and Space

To make full use of each flat, furniture should be fixed on the flat, and each flat should be designed specifically for its program packing. After removing all the debris, so we can focus ourselves on living our lives. An experience of autonomy-space interaction differing from the traditional housing space. The windows, doors, furniture’  positions change with ever shift, from floor to walls, then to ceiling. Sofa, bookshelf and bed could be used on either side. Lamps, and tables are skylights and windows when shifted upside down.

Conceptual Scene | Living on Four Planes

Details | Steel Rail and wheel Details, Principle of Shifting 

Rail and Rolling System

In order to guarantee the completeness of the inner space, no rolling shaft  should appear in house. So we abandon the the simplest idea of placing a shaft in the center, instead we designed a dynamic system to hide the shifting component outside the house, and can be driven with minimum energy and space. 

The house is placed on two steel beams, which function as rails at the same time; another two rails are fixed on the gable walls. Equipped with gearing system, four track rollers are inserted into the rails of both sides.Driven by the gearing system, rollers are moved horizontally. Adjusting the track rollers to fixing or renegading to the rails enables the cubic house to be shifted.


Plan and Scenario | Four Interior Plans and Four Exterior Phases

Expressive Facade Related  to the Interior Condition

House is consist of four planes( living room, bedroom, study, and a multi-function flat ), two gable walls( one contains main entrance, toilet, and shelves, while the other is used as a window side). 

In this project we have broken the traditional concept of flat and wall, and the partition is endowed a new meaning in this housing mode. We added one wall in bedroom to ensure the sense of privacy( a partition to prevent the user from facing the living room directly in bed), and actually the wall can be used in 3 ways:

[1] It provides a scene for bedroom

[2] It hanged upon the living room as an illuminator, and can also reached as a second floor by a ladder from living room

[3] It creates a small silent space of height and space for study. That's what we call "wall was able to be made full of use".

The change of the  partition's status with each turn enriches the diversity of space in house. In addition, the status of the user inside can be indicated by the phase of the house. So people outside the house can judge from the transient asymmetric facade to identify which flat the user’s standing and can decide if they could visit him/her the moment without peeking inside . This is what we call an ‘Invisible Panopticism’, as a potential bond between the individual and the community.

Layered System| Axonometric and Section

Furniture |Lighting System Design and Multifaceted Furniture

Windows and tables with glass surface can be used as skylights when shifted upside down, thus can create a ever changing lighting environment for the interior.

Possibility | Additional Wall Could Alter the Use of the Space

Every four pictures is a group which shows how one fixed partition could change its attribute in space with the shift condition.