An Inside Look at The Home Without Boundary

The Home Without Boundary, a one-hundred-year-old house in Guangzhou was a classic townhouse with a narrow shape and a lot of “boundaries” in the form of walls, that made the house dark and separated the family members. Guangzhou-based Inspiration Group thanks to its redesign solved all of these problems.

“We were invited for a renovation of a one-hundred-year-old house in Guangzhou, in order to achieve the finest home-living experience. In the meantime, we wanted to evoke the family’s treasurable memory, as well as to re-narrate the memory in a more lively way. This is a three-floored house, located in Guangzhou’s old CBD, and it is a classic townhouse right next to a street, which results in a narrow shape. In addition, because of the inappropriate setting of the windows, neither natural wind nor light can easily enter the house, causing a serious problem of darkness and humidity. Consequently, proliferation of termites becomes an issue. Along with the structural problem due to disrepair of the house, these issues have become troubling for the daily livelihood of the family. Besides the structural issue, changes in the occupants of the house has made the renovation necessary in order to meet their existing living needs. Decades ago, owners of the house, as well as their 5 children lived in the house, so it was divided into many individual spaces. Nowadays, only 4 people reside here. Those individual spaces are not only empty, but become boundaries of their home. Since the functional spaces are scattered, family members are separated in different rooms everyday. Based on the structure of the house and the situation of the family, we have introduced the concept of ‘the boundaryless’. The house originally consisted of a principal room and an ell, which are separated by a solid wall. Therefore, the we decided to connect these two sections by removing the load-bearing wall and rebuilding the steel structure, in order to change the entire floor plan. The second step is to design a Core Tube, which combines the main movement line of the family (stairs + elevator), and to re-arrange the scattered spaces. The use of Core Tube can make each room in the house interconnected.  After removing all the nonfunctional boundaries and re-arranging the whole floor plan, residents will be able to walk freely and have interactions with each other in the house. Furthermore, by utilizing the front and backyard, skylight and open space, more sunlight can shine in the house. Ventilation and lighting issues are then solved. The first floor was separated by 2 rooms and had no open space. We changed the original structure and created a new open space. With the setting of various furniture, the first floor has now gained more functions. The design of kitchen has combined both Chinese and Western style. By moving the boards hung above, it can be turned into a closed Chinese kitchen, or a open Western kitchen. The kitchen bench can be extended to outdoor garden. When it is sunny, the family can enjoy coffee, looking at the plants without the need to walk outside. Between the second and the third floor, the designer has created a room with staggered floors specifically for leisure and cultural activities, to commemorate the father of the owner, as well as the precious memory and heritage he left for the family. All bedrooms are on the second and third floor. After ensuring everyone’s privacy, the designer has created a lot of sighting intersects using cavity, opposite windows and special room door settings. This intention can reduce the feeling of separation in the house. That is, even if the family members are in their own rooms, they can still see others. The Core Tube combining stairs and elevators is the only linkage among spaces in the house. A number of small lacunas are designed in each hallway, which create a vivid scene that allows residents to find some surprises or to explore the space while they are walking indoor. The fourth son’s workshop and a rooftop garden are located on the top floor. My team kept the original patterned tiles, old book cabinet and swivel chair from the Republic of China era. Setting them in the workshop creates an interesting contrast between old and new memory for the family. More areas for plants are designed in the rooftop garden. The old mottled walls and green pots together will provide an interesting view. In this busy city, the family has its own little green world,” says Thomas Xie, design director Inspiration Group

  • Location: Guangzhou, China
  • Date completed: 2017
  • Size: 4, 036 square feet
  • Design: Inspiration Group
  • Design director: Thomas Xie
  • Photos: Zaohui Huang
Kitchen area

Outdoor garden


Guest room
Son’s workshop

Rooftop garden