Houses don't necessarily need to be permanent structures with foundations to be considered 'home', nor do they need to be dilapidated shacks if they are constructed as temporary buildings. Exploring the future of the residential building industry in China, Beijing-based design firm People's Architecture Office (PAO) created this Plugin Tower using a modular kit-of-parts that allows inhabitants to build their own homes easily, and to disassemble them quickly when needed.
Seen over at ArchDaily, the Plugin Tower addresses the touchy issue of land ownership in China, where much of the land is owned by government or run by collective economic organizations (CEOs). Private home ownership is reserved only for the super-rich, and even then there are strict governmental regulations that make the process of building your own home quite difficult.
To tackle these difficulties, the Plugin Tower is designed as a prefabricated system that includes a steel spaceframe, which can be adapted to different contexts, all without the need for a foundation, thus skirting those strict regulations. The frame is enclosed using PAO's system of composite panels that incorporate insulation, finishes, plumbing and electrical wiring, all in a single molded panel. These panels can be set up by unskilled individuals in hours, with only a simple hex wrench needed to connect them.
The architects say that the Plugin Tower is made with ordinary citizens in mind, as it reduces the financial risk of losing one's land, as inhabitants can take their homes with them if they are made to relocate. Inspired by the infinite possibilities behind the plug-in architectural megastructures of the Metabolists, PAO's Plugin Tower allows for the same freedom of expansion, where modules can be plugged into or out of empty spaces within the frame whenever needed.
Of course, Plugin Tower is only an experiment for now, which you can view at the offices of Vanke, a real estate developer in Shenzhen. While the idea of plug-in architecture is great as a concept, it remains to be seen whether it will take off or even function as originally intended -- as actual, built examples like the Nagakin Capsule Tower demonstrate. In any case, there's no doubt that this design's strength is its modularity and flexibility -- qualities that are appreciated anywhere, no matter the context. More over at ArchDaily and People's Architecture Office.