When design studio RIGI was asked to redesign a traditional Shanghai lane home, the building was in need of structural repair and a major interior overhaul. Built in 1947, the residence was segmented into a warren of compartments that blocked natural light.
So RIGI got to work, demolishing a staircase on the north side of the home and reshaping the layout around a new central stair. Topped by a skylight, the new steel staircase has perforated treads that let even more light filter down into the interior of the home.
The first floor contains an open plan kitchen, dining area, and living room giving off onto an all-white outdoor courtyard. A full wall of the living room is occupied by a modular shelf system the designers call a “life board.” The idea is that the home’s future occupants will be able to rearrange the wall’s shelves and contents as they grow older. An artfully arranged plant nook also helps to blur the boundary between the living room and courtyard beyond its steel framed glass wall.
Upstairs, at least one of the bedrooms has another modular “life board” as well as waist-high wood paneling concealing lights. A metal rail system runs throughout every room of the home at a few feet below ceiling height, offering ample opportunities to hang ladders or shelves.