by Anmol AhujaJan 05, 2022
Sitting in a rich cultural neighbourhood in Hebei Province, China, Aranya theTANG Hotel makes an interesting proposition through its structural morphology, reminiscent of a small village in itself. What’s more interesting is that on first glance, and without a knowledge of the interior spaces, the hotel would seem like a facility for group or social housing. However, through the introduction of a housing-like structural composition and planning principles: breaking down the mass, cutting down on circulation areas including monotonous linear corridors, and implanting community spaces in their stead, an avenue for hospitality design transforms into a venue encompassing a more well rounded experience for its guests.
Another distinction for the hotel’s design is how the segregated mass is elevated off the ground, forming a succinct distinction between the hotel’s public and more private spaces. Furthermore, while a podium comprising multiple multi-storey towers is now a common commercial building typology in mega-towns, the hotel, with its relatively stunted vertical growth, employs this architectural principle to great effect. Not only does this give guests their required sense of privacy, the building is also able to convey a material distinction in its two levels, along with an appeasing and generally fuller composition at street level. Evocative of Noah’s ark, the podium seemingly tethers the individual structures to the ground, while at the same time lending a levity to them, well perceived from both close-by and from a distance.
Understated in form and bereft of embellishments, Aranya theTANG hotel is a building that does right by the basics of architectural theory: scale, planning, and composition. As a result, a major part of its visual appeal remains subtle, and rather introverted. Admittedly, the podium and the unitary structures that rest upon it would have lost a lot of that appeal, had the site not provided an opportunity for a hexagonal outline. Surrounded by a number of tenement style housing towers in all directions save one, facing the southern bank of the Gold coastline, the site subsumes “a spatial scale and form similar to the city plazas in small towns in Europe”, furthering the community-centred narrative of the development.
The Beijing-based B.L.U.E Architecture Studio backs their intervention through an observational lens cast upon contemporary cities and society, making a marked conclusion on a leaning towards more individualised living, while addressing the need for community spaces to enable that. “The importance of community becomes prominent when everyone's space in the city is getting smaller, and people get tired of a self-emphasising lifestyle,” states an official release by the studio. Aiming to create a space that could combine living, communication, and culture to deliver a comprehensive experience, the studio attempts to subvert the dominant notion of privacy and independence of guests in traditional hotel design through dynamic, shared spaces scooped from what is essentially the 'living mass' of the building.
Enveloped in transparent glass curtain walls, the ground floor, serving as the public front of the hotel, aims to create a ‘broad’ avenue and open, interactive atmosphere for both guests and passersby. The roof of the structure is slightly cantilevered to offer an expansive edge profile to the buildings above: eight scattered units with varying heights, to lend the illusory visual of a small floating community. Adding to the lightness of the “floating” volume, three different specifications of white profiled steel are used on the building’s facade. Nestled amid the main structures, several smaller structures are clad in laminated bamboo to deliver a warmer, more natural feeling. Aluminium is employed in the balconies, enclosing them in cuboidal masses, making for yet another enticing front for the hotel. In addition, each guest room features a small terrace, retaining the possibility of interacting with the surroundings.
What would traditionally be discarded as negative space is reorganised by the studio to form rather 'natural' spaces for catalysing activity, while the different heights of the buildings help create a constantly changing walking experience for patrons. The sea in close proximity, revealing itself slowly as one moves closer to the frontal edge of the building, forms a special part of the meandering walk. While privacy is therefore ensured in individual units and rooms, the exterior is designed to break this notion and create a neighbourhood of sorts. The space of a home will extend from the inside to more places,” states the team at B.L.U.E.
The internal spatial planning and interior design of the hotel is, materially, a warm contrast to the icy-white exterior. While the podium itself comprises spaces open to the public, including the lobby, cafe, and bar in a relatively open layout, the first floor comprises the residential units and guestrooms. For the interiors of the contiguously bound ground floor, the designers claim to consciously reduce the application of an ornamental language, while relying on the soft light and shadows cast by the daylight that trickles in due to the expansive fenestrations, the ocean air, and the landscape surrounding the property to become protagonists of the space.
The rooms, consisting primarily of suites designed for family trips, have two additional typologies to accommodate guests travelling more economically: loft rooms, totalling 36㎡ in area, and standard rooms, spread over 26㎡, located on the upper levels. The interior palette of these rooms is rounded out in wood, stucco, and travertine, adding to the overall simplistic outlook of the building. The podium level also consists of a shared living room facing the sea, exemplary of the shared public spaces definitive of the hotel complex.
Name: Aranya theTANG hotel
Location: Qinhuangdao, Hebei, China
Architects: B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio
Project Team: Shuhei Aoyama, Yoko Fujii, Lingzi Liu, Nailun Chen, Meiqing Le, Naixin Shi, Xuanjin He
Lighting Designer: B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio
Site Area: 1350m²
Gross Built Area: 3000m²