The design responds to a call from 2020 Suzhou International Design Week for the “New Norm” to explore emerging post-epidemic forms of social interaction and cultural exchanges. Together Apart is a pavilion that embodies the contradiction of a public space designed for gatherings in a time of social distancing.

Project: Together Apart. 2020 Suzhou International Design Week Pavilion
Year: 2020
Location: Suzhou, China
Status: completed
Type: pavilion
Program: lecture hall, info point / cafe’
Size: 70 sqm
Clients: Suzhou International Design Week
Contractor: Shandong Huarui Exhibition Limited
Structural constulant: Davide Tomasi
Studio Name: reMIX studio
Team: Nicola Saladino, Chen Chen, Federico Ruberto, Wang Yiren, Xu Nuofan, Lv Shoutuo, Zhang Ziyao

together apart by reMIX studio - Sheet4
©reMIX studio

The lockdowns had reduced everyone’s social life from face-to-face interactions to mere virtual online encounters. China was finally recovering from the pandemic and people were going back to filling the streets. Social distancing, though, seemed an unavoidable ever-present underlying layer that forced people to experience the urban space in a different way.

together apart by reMIX studio - Sheet5
©reMIX studio

The design brief asked for a lecture hall / workshop space, and an annexed info point / cafe’. Rather than defining one ideal way of using the pavilion, our design provides the maximum variety of operational modes. Even when there is no event, the pavilion works as an intensifier of the surrounding plaza: it offers a sort of artificial topography where people can sit down to enjoy a coffee or read, lie down and relax on soft cushions or play on the suspended net in the back. During a lecture, instead, the visitors can choose whether they want to be part of the small crowd gathered together inside the pavilion or they can prefer to stay apart, peeking from a safe distance through the dedicated “personal capsules” located in the back.

together apart by reMIX studio - Sheet8
©reMIX studio

The interior is wrapped by a colorful elastic skin, made of thin silicon pipes. The pipes filter the views without disconnecting the lecture hall from the plaza. Suzhou is famous for its traditional gardens, as well as for their architecture that challenges the usual dichotomy of “in vs. out”. Our façade explores the same concept: we blur the threshold in order to attract the curiosity of the passers-by, but at the same time preserving an intimate atmosphere for the speaker and the audience inside. If they decide to enter, the visitors have to pull the elastic strings apart and squeeze to pass through, which reminds them of the many occasions when their personal space is challenged by the pressure of the multitude and makes them reflect upon the importance of social distancing.


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