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Incision | Nantou City Guesthouse

Nantou City is a palimpsest of past and present, its many lives coexisting and layered over one another. Filled with remnants of pre-industrial setlements, the chéngzhōngcūn (or “urban village”) in the middle of hectic Shenzhen features numerous time-worn buildings undergoing transformation in what constitutes an adaptive re-use project on a neighbourhood scale.

Incision | Nantou City Guesthouse

In this milieu, Neri&Hu, masters of putting past in dynamic dialogue with present and future, has breathed new life into a destitute high-rise. Called Incision, the project is inspired by the character of the street. “Scenes of the everyday — people, objects and their settings — are the primary source material for the design,” the architects say. Wrapped in bands of perforated metal, detailed with luxurious marble and capped by a sculptural rooftop, the exemplary Nantou City Guesthouse is the result of a rigorous archeological approach, one informed by Svetlana Boym’s writings on nostalgia.

“There are some very beautiful elements in how they thoughts about the pedestrian in relation to the street, including the detail of the marble seat on the side of the guesthouse.”
Tosin Oshinowo, AZ Awards 2024 Juror
Incision | Nantou City Guesthouse

By carving — or making “incisions” — into the existing 1,370-square-metre building, the architects revealed its expressive concrete bones. Most jaw- dropping: the revamp of the stairway that connects the guest house’s nine main floors. Blasted open to the elements, this new vertical courtyard now features a metal staircase that complements the robust shell’s raw concrete beams and pillars. The architects also extended a side street to appear as though it leads straight into the heart of the ground floor. In these ways and more, the firm made new connections between the built form and the city that surrounds it. The flat, floating roof crowned by metallic monoliths — evocative of the vernacular add-ons that “space-starved attic-level residents” often tack onto their homes — provides a panorama of the district. Celebrating both the ruins of the original building and the street life of the urban village, Nantou City Guesthouse shows that adaptive re-use can be a rich exploration of memory and emotion, form and materiality.

Team: Lyndon Neri, Rossana Hu, Chris Chienchuan Chen, Christine Chang and Sanif Xu with Bingxin Yang, Dian Wang, Ningxin Cheng, Peter Ye, Bernardo Taliani de Marchio, Cheng Jia, Xiaotang Tang, Jieqi Li, Pengpeng Zheng, Eric Zhou, Yoki Yu, Zhikang Wang, Tong Shu, Matthew Sung, Kany Liu, July Huang and Lyuqitiao Wang

Winner: Adaptive Re-Use
Incision | Nantou City Guesthouse

Neri&Hu, masters of putting past in dynamic dialogue with present and future, has breathed new life into a destitute high-rise

Explore more Award Winners

2024
People’s ChoiceAdaptive Re-Use
Location
Nanyang, China
Firm
YFS, China
2021
WinnerAdaptive Re-Use
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Firm
Alexander Gorlin Architects, U.S.
2021
Award of MeritAdaptive Re-Use
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Chicago, U.S.
Firm
Krueck Sexton Partners, U.S.