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Stepped Courtyards

This project is the staff dormitory for NetDragon Websoft’s new campus. Not far from the ocean, the open site is virtually a tabula rasa, with neither much context nor fixed physical boundaries. The idea is to create a collective living space with inward-facing and semi- autonomous forms that foster a strong sense of community. Three square-shaped buildings with large central courtyards are arranged on the site at different angles. The form is inspired by the square Tulou, a vernacular residential typology in the local Fujian province employed by early migrants from inland.

Stepping down in different ways according to wind and views, these three buildings each contain a series of carefully landscaped open terraces to be shared by the residents. This also opens up the otherwise enclosed central courtyards to the surrounding nature, be it mountain or ocean. Commune residents can enjoy their free time together on these terraces with great views. Circulation is arranged on the courtyard side, and connects to all the shared terraces.

These three stepped courtyard blocks are lifted off the ground to allow for free air circulation and foot traffic from outside through the courtyards. The ground has a complex folded geometry, forming different mounds that appear to support the buildings above. These landscaped mounds accommodate ancillary facilities for the dorms, such as gyms, a laundry room, a cafeteria, and convenience stores, with storefronts open to the central courtyards.

Communal living and social interactions are of particular significance to these employees, who are otherwise immersed in the virtual fantasy world they create every day, subconsciously becoming part of it. The once prevalent socialist model of communal living is reinterpreted here in a totally new context. More importantly, staffs in different positions live together equally, sharing the same resources and public spaces in an environment that reflects and stimulates positive changes to the culture of the company.

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