Guilin Litopia, a creative guesthouse in the picturesque town of Guelin in China, proposes the idea of ‘living in the other place’. The guesthouse was recently renovated where five designers put together a series of 10 themed guestrooms translating their distinctive ideas and understandings of life into a spatial language. Using regional materials, a neutral colour palette and bare essentials, some of the resultant themes were 'shadow', 'light', 'ripple', 'peace', 'structure', and 'innocence' among others.
Two such rooms from the series were commissioned to Studio 10, an interdisciplinary architectural practice based out of Shenzen, China. Titled Dream and Maze, the interiors as conceived by the studio are inspired from the complex, gravity defying works of famous Dutch artist, M. C. Escher. Drawn from his mysterious and seemingly impossible compositions, each of the two guestrooms invites sheer wonder and a sense of unpredictability by blurring the boundaries between the real and illusionary.
“The client,” says the designers, “wanted something fresh, creative, unique and otherworldly while making the best use of the existing structure.”
The rooms originally were covered in unfinished concrete, had large volumes with pitched roofs and unusual heights of 7.6 m. This space to the designers ‘felt like a chapel’ and they gladly accepted the challenge as a spatial opportunity.
Inside the rooms, a striking colour palette washes the interiors to reveal the ascribed themes for each. While Dream, painted pale pink and white, connects to sweet dreams, Maze with its green palette is meant to be ‘more mysterious, like the secret forest with hidden doors in fairy tales.’ The most distinguished feature, however, is the geometric medley of gravity defying stairs that criss-cross the internal volumes like paper-cut models, sometimes held together, and at others suspended in three-dimensional space.
A series of doors, painted black in Dream and gold in Maze, break the homogeneity between the walls and floor and conspicuously add depth to the rhythmic setting. Not just an aesthetic insert, these openings serve a critical purpose. “All components of the real world such as lighting fixtures and electronic appliances have been concealed behind a series of black painted doors, maintaining the pristine, chimerical nature of the space,” explain the designers.
The rooms are strategically lit to enhance its strong geometric language. A soft glow runs round the door edges, stairway corners, the backs of dressing mirrors and under the beds, rendering the volume in a subtle illumination.
Conceived and led by architect Shi Zhou, Director at Studio 10, the project is a highly imaginative concept with fantastical elements, but made rather functional in its simplicity. The seemingly unreal spaces in their abstraction and commonality enthral the mind and overwhelm the senses. No points for guessing then, why the hotel is called The Other Place.
Official name of the project: Dream & Maze, The Other Place, Guilin Lithopia
Location: Pingle County, Guilin, Guangxi Province, China
Area: 140sqm per room
Client: The Other Place – Guilin Litopia/ Nianhua Cultural and Creative
Architect: Studio 10
Design team: Shi Zhou, Xin Zheng, Xiangtong Wu, Zixia Huang, Ming Tang (Project Assistant)
Year of completion: 2018