KiKi ARCHi’s vision of balancing individuality and togetherness with Skip House

Humans are creatures of association—we find comfort in familiarity. For older people, comfort could be sought in adhering to traditions, while for the young, it could mean a departure from tradition to discover one’s identity. How do you then seek reconciliation between the two seemingly conflicting ideologies? And especially for the idea of a home, how do you establish comfort for both, the old and the young? The Skip House by Tokyo-based studio KiKi ARCHi appears to navigate through these speculations, in an attempt to reconcile the distinctions that come with the cohabitation of multiple generations.



The staircase and the moon door add a playful touch to an otherwise solemn design language | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
The staircase and the moon door add a playful touch to an otherwise solemn design language Image: Koji Fujii


The Skip House is a 300 sqm duplex residential apartment located in the west district of Beijing. A home for a family of four, here elders often visit and stay for a short period. The architects thus sought to accommodate the diverse lifestyles of the family members, with different interests, preferences and living habits—which became the identity of the house. KiKi ARCHi as a design practice upholds an inclusive heart for the independence and integration of different cultures and individuals. While elaborating on their ethos, the studio says, “The team is good at discovering the characteristics of objects, focusing on different image associations, making subtle observations, transforming the rational framework into spatial logic, and completing the specific narrative of the project with graceful design language.” The Tokyo-based studio characterises the Skip House as a space where the emotions of the family also collide and integrate.



The tea room carries a resonant warmth that contrasts with the main living space | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
The tea room carries a resonant warmth that contrasts with the main living space Image: Koji Fujii


The navigation of the differences in spatial personalities is immediately perceptible, with the living room divided into two distinct volumes. Families with relatively independent living structures still share physical proximity through what the studio refers to as the ‘temperature sense’. The larger space—the living area—consists of a monotonous palette and a volume that is airy and well-lit. The smaller volume, located on the upper level, is a tea room that contrasts with the living area through the warmth of its tones. A proliferation of wooden textures adds to the oriental aura and furthers the feeling of comfort that is associated with small spaces.



The living room embraces a minimalist aesthetic | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
The living room embraces a minimalist aesthetic Image: Koji Fujii


The solemnity of the spaces is softly broken by playful elements that carry a childlike delight. One such element is a custom-designed staircase, which takes on a much more versatile character. It conveys a certain liminality in function and form, catering to various visual and functional needs. The staircase becomes a stylistic link between the two spaces—as the warmth of its wooden treads counterbalances the industrial nature of the metal stringer and cement platform. Functionally, the two platforms at the base of the staircase—one in wood and the other in micro cement—are designed as nooks that carry a more adaptable nature in tune with the different needs of the inhabitants. The small wooden platform extending from the staircase structure can be used as an open desk, whereas the micro-cement platform does not carry a functional specificity. The staircase becomes a point of intersection for the people in the house, and its unobtrusive character—with an absence of risers providing transparency—allows visual connectivity between different spaces. “This not only introduces more natural lighting,” Kiki ARCHi states, “but also becomes a crucial presence in the progressive relationship of space.”



The wooden platform of the staircase doubles as a study bench for children while the cement step’s function is ambiguous | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
The wooden platform of the staircase doubles as a study bench for children while the cement step’s function is ambiguous Image: Koji Fujii


The wooden platform of the staircase carries another significance as a vantage point. From there, any family member can easily view all the common spaces of the house—the living space, kitchen and dining area on the first floor, and the tea room on the second floor. As per the design team, the visual connectivity amongst different functional spaces reduces the alienation that is often associated with urban living. The architects mention that a few traditional details also find their place in the home, becoming part of the project’s conception—such as the narrow gold stair railings, the stack tiles in the bathroom, and the slim wooden grating door that separates the study room from the main bedroom.



  • The visually unobtrusive nature of the staircase makes it a common point in the house | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    The visually unobtrusive nature of the staircase makes it a common point in the house Image: Koji Fujii






  • The kitchen has an open layout and its colour palette resonates with the muted tones of the living space | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    The kitchen has an open layout and its colour palette resonates with the muted tones of the living space Image: Koji Fujii



The other element that adds a playful character to the house is the moon door behind the tea mat, adapted from the moon gate—a characteristic element of the Chinese garden. It acts as a display shelf, hiding a camouflaged door that leads to the elders’ room. Under the tea room, the space includes an entrance, kitchen, dining room, toilet, master bedroom, children’s room and other functional areas. The dining room and the kitchen showcase accents of warm tones and textures that provide visual balance to the space. The spacious master bedroom shares a minimal oriental vocabulary with the tea room, exhibiting a subdued warmth that makes for a comforting private space. With an extended passageway leading to a study area before opening into the bedroom, it possesses an added layer of privacy. The study area has a large window along its longer wall, which allows the space to receive abundant daylight. The entire design makes use of its large existing fenestrations by creating partition-less common spaces.



  • The kitchen, like all common spaces, has an open layout and shares a monotone colour palate with the main living space | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    The bedroom has a warm and minimal oriental vocabulary that makes for a comforting private space Image: Koji Fujii






  • A large window spanning the length of the study area floods it with daylight | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    A large window spanning the length of the study area floods it with daylight Image: Koji Fujii



“The owner prefers a calm and restrained tone and especially appreciates the traditional Chinese culture. KiKi ARCHi took inspiration from the philosophy that ‘great truths are always simple. And like Chinese literati paintings, leaving empty spaces portrays elegance (with a heightened focus on the intended elements),” states the project’s press release.

KiKi ARCHi explores a layered approach to designing living spaces, allowing individualistic expression for the inhabitants to unfold while also providing strategic intersections for their routines to overlap—thus celebrating togetherness. The conventionally fragmented functions of the house blend into each other, creating a well-lit and airy atmosphere, but also facilitating spaces of delight for the inhabitants that encourage joyful living.  Much like their other works which include the Classic Meets Modern house in Beijing, the studio continues their recurring quest to find a harmonious blend between tradition and modernity. 



  • First-floor plan | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    First-floor plan Image: Courtesy of KiKI ARCHi






  • Second-floor plan | Skip House | KiKi ARCHi | STIRworld
    Second-floor plan Image: Courtesy of KiKI ARCHi



Project Details

Name: Skip House

Location: Beijing, China

Area: 300 sq.m.

Year of completion: 2022

Architect: Cheng Chung Design

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