Ma Yansong on buildings of freedom that rethink our fellowship with nature
by Jincy IypeMar 24, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Jincy IypePublished on : Sep 15, 2021
Mushrooming beside a petite river in the picturesque city of Guilin in Guangxi is the Guilin Lebei Homestay Hotel, a cluster of 13 wooden volumes of varying shapes hosting immersive accommodation experiences that take cues from its surrounding nature and geography, a driving factor of the hotel’s architecture. Commissioned by the Homestay hotel chain, aoe architects relays that the "history of the hotel can be traced back to ancient civilisation. It is a kind of shelter with a wide view and practicality while avoiding danger. We applied the concept into the project, enabling visitors to have a closer relationship with nature."
Conceived over two-and-a half-years, the Guilin Lebei Homestay Hotel came about after a rigorous study of the local history and prevalent architectural traditions, which mainly pertained to establishing harmonious relations with the abundant nature the tourist site in China is blessed with, apart from a mild and pleasant climate.
The units that make up the contextual design are expressed in five varying shapes and differing areas (reaching a maximum of 27 sqm) and raised to a height of five meters off the ground. These heights are aligned with the canopy of neighbouring trees, lending it behavioural lightness and wide, interesting views of its scenic vistas. The windows of each cabin interact directly with the lively curtain of green they are nestled within, giving guests the experience of shuttling through the jungle. A raised walkway dressed in wooden planks snakes through the cluster, connecting all pods.
Each volume is topped with steeply pitched roofs or curved versions of it, clad either in wooden shingles or artificial thatch, covering one set of its parallel sides completely, giving them their raw, distinct aesthetic. The main activity area of each unit is concentrated on the first floor, while the second employs the jutting triangular space as a crawling area for children to play. The other pods vary slightly with children’s bedrooms taking over the second floor, and the first accommodating the living area and bedroom for adults which is spread over approximately 45 sqm, with wooden ladders connecting both levels.
aoe uses an outdoor slide to connect the twin levels of Type B and Type C, as a play space for children while Type D is given a more natural look by topping it with an artificial thatched, curved roof. Meanwhile, the façade of Type E is dressed in wooden slats, spliced to form an elliptical, unique and childlike style, with large windows.
The units of the Homestay Hotel are viewed and accessed via differing perspectives as they are placed along the winding plank roads and connect to the second floor of the complex’s inn. This raised road is given a more playful, interactive character by setting it up with slides, slings, and other entertainment facilities for adults and kids alike, and connected to the ground level garden vertically.
Guilin Lebei Homestay Hotel is also augmented with leisure spaces for viewing and relaxing among treetops, its architecture harmonising with the earth, where the great outdoors is a fundamental design element. “The overhead of the trestle bridge and hotel allows the ground floor to escape to the maximum, reducing the impact on the surroundings, and creating a free panoramic garden. Under the shelter of surrounding buildings and trees, it is also cool and comfortable in summer, making the stay a truly relaxing and scenic one,” share the Chinese architects based in Beijing.
Name: Guilin Lebei Homestay Hotel
Location: Guilin, Guangxi, China
Area: 608 sqm (complete building area)
Year of completion: 2021
Owner: Sunac (Beijing) Cultural Tourism Planning Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Lead Architect: Wen Qun Design Team: Jiahan Liang, Liuqing Liu, Jianxin Li, Ruixue Fan
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