by Jerry ElengicalSep 28, 2022
Design studio IDMatrix demonstrates unbridled respect for Chinese architecture and heritage in the restoration of the General Mansion - that was once the grand lakeside home of a Qing Dynasty general - into the China Qionghai 17℃ International Tourist Resort in Sichuan. The adaptive reuse pays attention to the history of the old building by retaining details of the original structure, and merging ancient composition with essential, modern design. One look at the boutique hotel, and it is clear that the focus was to highlight the amalgamation of the old and new, and revel in the differences between the rustic and contemporary.
The China Qionghai 17℃ International Tourist Resort displays a subdued mélange of ancient elements that sit with minimal furniture, new, sleeker spaces stitched into the essence of the traditional architecture. While water connects the surrounding landscape with the complex, the rooms have been expanded without dismantling the old elements completely, inspiring a hybrid aesthetic that sits in the 21st century, yet evokes an atmosphere of the bygone era.
IDMatrix began with a mission to awaken the derelict building, to make its old spirit sing in a fresh theatre of design. The resort design is carried out by stripping back layers to reveal traditional details like bilateral symmetry, sky well, mud-walls, Asian wood carvings, and old paintings, most of which have been retained and given a new lease of life. A water corridor next to the wall of the old structure leads visitors to the new, main body of the hotel.
A thick, antique door welcomes one into the hotel from the front courtyard, which is decked with hot springs. The lobby displays a wide area where the original wooden column-tie structure of the old mansion remains, accompanied by newly polished furniture and high ceilings. The reception area is kept at the junction of the two structures, to maintain a sense of neutrality between the present and the past.
“The tall main room, the elegant wing-room, the bluestone floor, the symmetrical stairs, the unique window grilles, and the embossed drum-shaped stone foundation, have all become legends of the mansion,” says chief designer Liu Idmen, explaining how the hotel continues to stand the test of time.
For the predominantly brown and beige interior design, IDMatrix retained the details of the original building and used “modern minimalist methods to protect and maintain the cultural heritage and rituals that have been handed down over a century,” shares the team.
The first floor is equipped with a spacious restaurant with soft seats and views of the surrounding landscape, like the design of traditional open-air tea rooms fitted with open vistas that stretch before it. The ceiling emulates its traditional skin by simplifying it, while the suites enjoy the best-framed sights in the complex. Compared to its exterior skin, the suites and other spaces such as the western dining room and private rooms are well-lit and sleeker, done in a more minimal aesthetic with translucent screens and elegant furniture.
The reception hall at the entrance carries a centuries-old mural, an authentic relic, according to IDMatrix and Vanke-Xichang Moon Tourism Development, the owners of the resort. The original low ceilings were dismantled to open the space. The sunken area with the sofas was originally the horse stables. “It has a unique architectural landscape with two layers of eaves stacked on top of each other. Changing it into viewing and resting area was unique and magical for us, in terms of the design taking shape,” observes Idmen.
“It carries a grand and rich narrative. We sought to integrate into the rich and varied natural scenery, the humanistic spirit of the structure, with respect and awe, into an inspiration for design,” says IDMatrix.
Name: China Qionghai 17℃ International Tourist Resort - General Mansion
Location: Haibin Middle Road, Qionghai Lushan Scenic Spot, Xichang City, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan, China
Indoor Area: 5,000 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Owner: Vanke-Xichang Moon Tourism Development Co., Ltd.
Owner's team: Zhang Runxin, Zhao Dongfang, Wen Ming, Tu Qin, Li Xiangjie, Wang Haitao
Chief designer: Liu Idmen
Architectural design: Zhou Shimiao, Zhang Qiao, Yue Chengchao, Zhang Haixia, Zhang Yixuan, Liu Pinjie, Qin Shutong
Interior design: Chang Peidong, Chen Wanshen, Okui Ryuta, Tang Jiabing, Li Liuqing, Liang Manting
Soft outfit design: Zhou Xiaoyun, Chen Xiaoling, Zheng Shiwei, Pan Hong, Ma Meixi, Chen Da
Signage design: Ruiao Design / Guan Pu Cha
Landscape design: Zhu Yufan Studio
Furniture and Accessories: M-CASA / MATRIX original