by Jerry ElengicalJan 17, 2022
On the lakeside lawns of Lushan West Sea Resort near the prefecture-level city of Jiujiang in China's Jiangxi Province, Beijing-based studio PLAT ASIA was called upon to execute a minor renovation of the façade and interiors of an existing structure that had been lying unutilised for nearly five years. The client, China Overseas Grand Oceans Lushan West Sea (Jiujiang) Investment Co., Ltd., had initially intended for the refurbished building to be integrated as a cultural complex and multifunctional space on the grounds of the resort. However, on surveying the context, the architects proposed a more comprehensive intervention that would transform much of the structure and its site into its current incarnation as the Lushan West Sea Art Center. As stated by PLAT ASIA in an official release, "The goal of the design was not to satisfy function itself, but rather to rebuild a sense of place."
In this vein, the design team drew inspiration from the scenic vistas on offer from the site, as well the undulating topography of the neighbouring land to create a discourse between architecture, people, and nature. Adopting the concept of a ‘ridge’ as a core element of the design, the architects crafted fluted white concrete architectural forms that curl around the original structure, reminiscent of the meandering paths and landforms seen in traditional Chinese Shan shui landscape paintings. This was in line with the studio’s approach of refining the contexts of their projects and exploring the relationships between people and the natural environment.
The corrugated concrete textures of the structures infuses a sense of rhythm as they swerve and snake their way around the site like an artist’s brush strokes, to compose the façade design. Furthermore, the architects ensured a sense of balance by contrasting the fluted surfaces with plain ones at various points throughout the site. Outlining curved walkways and serene water features along their path, the structures screen the landscape design, embracing both nature and architecture to become one with their context.
Simultaneously, the structures slice across the terrain and interject the rectilinear forms of the main functional spaces, fashioning an experiential journey that lends the intervention a resemblance to the miniature landscapes seen in traditional Chinese gardens. This is further accentuated by a pair of water features at different levels that induce a sense of calm to the overall composition.
According to the architects, the renovation process for the original building was broken down into two interventions. Firstly, a small structure to the west was demolished, followed by an expansion of the building to the east and west, to enhance the links between architecture and nature in its adaptive reuse. Transparency between the two was of supreme importance, hence, PLAT ASIA implemented a system of internal cross arches that is echoed in the trajectory of nearby ridged forms, and accentuated by rows of large façade arches that offer users a view of the world outside.
A similar aesthetic is followed throughout the interior design scheme, with abundant use of neutral tones and shades of white along the walls, floors, and ceilings. However, this monolithic theme is broken in certain areas by wooden bookshelves, clear glass partitions, and suspended elements of lustrous, rippling metal - finished to appear like floating blobs of liquid. A mirrored finish dresses the vaulted ceiling in one section of the building, generating a kaleidoscopic play of light and texture absorbed from the vegetation outside.
Furnishings adhere to the understated and almost minimalist qualities of the design, with intricately crafted seating and upholstered lounges that exude delicacy and elegance. Additionally, the voids of the cross arch system in certain parts of the building have been used as niches for concealed lighting design elements, which bathe the walls and ceilings in a warm golden aura.
Through their venture, PLAT ASIA has comprehensively reshaped the makeup of the building and its context, from one of disuse and neglect to a new beginning in harmony with nature - flirting with the boundaries of both hospitality architecture and landscape design project. Reminiscent of the white marble edifices and arcades of classical Greco-Roman traditions, reinterpreted through the lens of eastern sensibilities and Chinese architecture, the resultant ensemble radiates lightness and understated grace.
Name: Lushan West Sea Art Center
Location: Lushan West Sea Resort, Jiujiang City, Jiangxi, China
Typology: Renovation, Exhibition space
Area: 600 sqm
Year of completion: 2021
Client: China Overseas Grand Oceans Lushan West Sea (Jiujiang) Investment Co., Ltd.
Architect: PLAT ASIA
Scope: Site, Architecture, Interiors
Design Team: PLAT ASIA atelier d – DH Jung, Guowei Liu, Jingyun Lian, Yuanyu Liao, Teng Xue
Construction: China Urban Construction Design & Research Institute
Interior Design: YiBoChuan Deepening Design (Shanghai)
Lighting Design: z design and planning
Decoration Design: YUANBEN DESIGN