The Borderless Community of Panyu

This is a quick translation of the Chinese audio from the following video, originally posted on


There are four or five of us, my friends and I are all in the creative industry. The forward slash generation. Our multiple identities make varying demands on our living spaces. So we have moved our offices together, so we can work together, live together.

The Borderless Community of Panyu, Guangzhou.

My name is Michelle. I’m an architect, and a typical Guangzhou’er. This used to be a large-scale state-owned sweets factory. It’s been there since the 1950s. We’ve picked one of the workshops within the compound for our conversion. We call it the “Borderless Community”.

This tower block is around 1500 square metres. Originally it had three floors, each about six metres high. Because we wanted to be together, what we had in mind was a sort of village, where we’d all be villagers. So first, we designed a “thoroughfare”, on either side of which would be our individual “fields”, six rooms all of varying sizes, surrounding this “street”.

We created a multipurpose garden on the rooftop, with a wall design like undulating mountains, where a dip in the wall would capture the surrounding scenery. This is a space where all the neighbours in the building can hang out together, watch a movie, or enjoy a barbecue. This lower floor can be used as open workshops, and this upper floor closed offices or leisure spaces.

This is my friend who has a small child and a beautiful golden retriever. Here’s where she makes her hand-worked leather goods. This winding path leads to the big balcony, and also to her family living quarters.

From the streets, you’ll see a room that looks like it’s suspended in midair. It’s a design studio and shop. And the protagonist of this space is a graphic designer. He lives alone, and has all the private living space he wants within this 35 square-metre room, only a neat turn and six steps away from his completely public workshop.

Lots of young people in Guangdong like to make pottery. So we thought about having an exhibition space within the building, that includes the design, production process, and even usage in everyday life.

After completing the building, we felt it needed an entrance, an overture to our creation. Fortunately there was an old wall outside the building, which we consolidated and made into another space, a tea room. There’s some old graffiti, a street sign that says “Sweets Factory 5thStreet”, and some no-smoking signs, which we’ve decided to keep, as a tribute to the history of the place from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

We have named our home “The Borderless Museum”. It’s open and communal space. There are all kinds of interesting people here. From the outside, you’ll see scenes from their lives, like moving exhibits on museum shelves. You’ll see many stories happening here. Today, you’ll see someone cooking, and tomorrow, an exhibition being set up. Like a theatre in which the curtains never close.

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