The last few projects by China's People's Architecture Office (PAO) have involved the firm producing wacky, outside-the-box ideas to tackle housing issues in China, including living in a ventilation shaft and a pedal-powered RV. Its latest work follows in this vein and consists of a prototype prefabricated home that can be disassembled and moved relatively easily should the need arise.
The Plugin Tower was recently unveiled in Shenzhen at a design event held by Chinese real estate firm Venke that featured ideas for the future of housing. It's something of a political statement, and is meant to highlight the insecurity of home ownership in a country where all land is government-owned and private homes are the reserve of the rich.
The project's design is inspired by the Japanese Metabolist architecture movement that spawned the famous Nakagin Capsule Tower and consists of a steel frame and a kit of parts that can be assembled into multiple rooms. Access is gained by spiral steps and inside, the look is very utilitarian, with metal paneling and glazing.
The idea is, because it doesn't require proper foundations and is classed as a temporary structure, planning permission would be much easier to get. If some issue does arise or the residents just want to move, rather than losing their home, they could simply disassemble it and move it to another plot.
While the Plugin Tower should definitely be considered food for thought rather than something the masses are going to be living in soon, the design is not totally without practical merit. The Plugin Tower is based around PAO's proprietary "Plugin Panel" system that includes insulation, wiring, plumbing, and interior and exterior finishes all crammed into one molded panel.
The firm says that the panels can be easily installed by a couple of unskilled people with hex keys (though it made use of cranes to put the steel support frame into place). The prototype home could also be expanded easily to add more rooms as a family grows, for example.