by Jincy IypeJul 21, 2022
Thin steel pillars support the white ribbon canopy of Garden Hotpot Restaurant, which snakes along a lotus pond concealed in a eucalyptus forest within Sansheng Township in Chengdu, China. The tourist location also known as “Chengdu green lung” is celebrated for its leisurely warm climate, unique natural conditions and ecological resources apart from its food and lifestyle culture. Designed by MUDA-Architects, the project was completed in 2019 as part of a larger renovation commission in Chengdu city. It was recently announced as the Winner of Biophilic Design Category and the Overall Winner of Restaurant Category in Restaurant & Bar Design Awards 2020.
The waterside Garden Hotpot Restaurant incorporates the local Sichuan ‘hotpot’ style of dining with its natural setting, “creating a restaurant that respects the original ecology, in line with the modern consumption style,” shares the Boston and Beijing-based studio. Covering an area of 1,800 sqm, the lightweight structure has a circumference of 290 m, with the width of the ribbon shrinking and expanding according to the site.
“The natural environment of the site is beautiful but complex. The lovely grove of eucalyptus trees had to be preserved, and the terrain is tortuous with a maximum drop of nearly two meters. In order to respect the natural location and minimise human intervention here, we conducted manual mapping and recorded the site, to design the form according to the placement of the trees and lake. Moreover, the free curve of the roof is designed according to the site characteristics and function,” says Yun Lu, Founding Partner and Principal Architect, MUDA-Architects.
The resulting design thus eliminates walls, and uses only slim steel pillars to support the ivory white roof three metres above the wooden platform, its form designed to have a minimal impact on the local ecology. The open-air restaurant design outlines the existing shape of the lake and towering trees, weaving inside the forest organically. The designers reveal that the building's shape resembles steam rising from boiling hotpots, curling between the trees.
“Thin steel columns are evenly distributed on both sides, and the free curve of the roof forms several transparent, splendid viewing frames. The bottom platform is consistent with the curve of the roof, and the same method is used in the design to echo each other, demonstrating the consistency and integrity of the whole space,” says Lu.
This series of 88m columns is used as the only supporting structure, merging and disappearing straight into the trunks of the dense canopy of eucalyptus trees. Complementing the dark vegetation of the hauntingly natural site, these pillars rest on a platform of anti-corrosive wood, while the eddying roof is made of galvanised steel sheet, coated with white fluorocarbon paint. A low wooden railing runs along the perimeter of the platform, “blurring the boundary of the lake, and bringing people closer to nature”.
MUDA-Architects also reveal that this project was an experiment in small scale and low-cost architecture for them. Apart from the core design team, the construction crew included local migrant workers who didn't possess professional training or tools. “In order to ensure quality, architects simplified complex structural nodes and made strategic adjustments in a way that workers could understand. The whole building applied steel structure welding technology, which greatly shortens the construction period and reduces the cost,” shares the studio.
Open to public, the airy design romantically integrates with its surrounding nature, with visitors sitting on simple white rounded chairs placed around a table, the landscape spray simmering from the lake and perfuming the transparent spaces within Garden Hotpot Restaurant.
Name: Garden Hotpot Restaurant
Location: No.588 Fujiang Road, Jinjiang District, Chengdu, China
Area: 1,800 sqm
Year of completion: 2019
Client: Xinhua Nufang Restaurant
Chief Architect: Yun Lu
Design Team: Yun Lu, Jiandan Xu, Qiming Sun, Xue Chen, Yixiu He, Xiaoqiao Liu, Dian Rong, Shangyun Zhou
Construction supervision unit: Chufeng Architectural Decoration Design Co.
Construction supervision team: Xianyong Wu, Fei Jiang, Wenjie Tang, Songlin Li>
Construction Team: Hao Chen, Chuangui Zhou and local workers