Five Houses

Five Houses is an architectural proposal created by Ai Weiwei and HHF architects as the formative component of a larger project called "Ai Weiwei House", a contemporary interpretation of a residential building as a total work of art. Ai Weiwei will be collaborating with various specialists in different fields, from architecture to furniture design, textile design, and ceramics, among others, to create the individual components that will constitute the "Ai Weiwei House". In order to create a "Gesamtkunstwerk", each part of it is developed within the confines of a precise field of action and held together by the artistic and curatorial guidance of Ai Weiwei. The project merges Ai’s conceptual art and architecture practices in a way – and on a scale – yet unprecedented in his oeuvre.

The design of this series of residential buildings is based on the sequential repetition of a well-proportioned unit, a typology that can be found in earlier conceptions of both Ai Weiwei and HHF. Subtle variations in the configuration of these elements shape the spatial configurations of both the interior and exterior, and create so-called "axes of privacy", which run perpendicular to a contrasting primary "axis of generosity" which transects each of the five structures. In each house, this principal axis is additionally reflected in other design features, such as a set of modular tables that can be arranged to form one large entity running along the full length of the space to underline the unity of art and architecture at the core of the project.

Text by Reto Geiser