by Jerry ElengicalOct 05, 2021
Shanghai-based studio ZJJZ has designed The Mushroom - a cone-shaped guest house nestled within a pine forest in China's Jiangxi province. Built along a sloped, wood-paneled path that meanders through expanses of wild grass and rich red soil, the structure is shrouded by trees and rests slightly elevated above its surrounding landscape. The Mushroom's towering conical roof resembles a pinecone dropped from the branch of an encircling tree, giving off a quaint, earthy charm that obscures the line between nature and built form.
For the design team at ZJJZ, managing this relationship between architecture and nature was integral to the design process and became its guiding parameter. To this end, the 50 sqm residential architecture is built as an intimate cabin in the woods, lifted above the ground level by steel supports submerged in concrete footings to minimise its impact on the terrain.
Over time, the architects hope that plants beneath the structure will gradually grow upwards to embrace and caress its underbelly, solidifying the harmony between the house and its natural environment. The Mushroom's form above comprises two intersecting volumes that subdivide interior spaces according to their respective functions.
Accessed by a series of elevated steps that lead to a narrow-embedded entryway, the first of the structure's two zones is a rectangular mass projecting from a second circular volume. This latter section's shape is reminiscent of the upturned cap of its namesake fungus.
The Mushroom's exterior is coated with granolithic concrete and crowned by the visually striking cone-shaped roof clad in pinewood panels. ZJJZ expects that these materials will patinate over time, change colours according to changes in humidity and weather conditions, permitting the dwelling to blend with its natural context.
A bathroom and storage area occupy the first rectangular mass. With an earthy, minimalist aesthetic that employs wood panels and grey tiles, the bathing area features a horizontal slit window adjacent to its inbuilt tub, bringing in nature and ensuring privacy by avoiding the view from the nearby walkway. Additionally, an overhead circular skylight illuminates the space and “introduces different expressions of light and shadow” on its surfaces that reflect prevailing weather conditions. This zone also serves a subsidiary purpose as the house's lobby, which provides a tranquil area for guests to visit and linger.
Further ahead, The Mushroom's main body consists of a circular guest room with a warm, cosy ambience, sparsely populated by furniture and featuring wood-panelled walls and flooring that enhances its connection to nature.
A curved panoramic window is the highlight of this space, placed to coincide with a seated viewer's eye level. When lounging on the bed or settled on one of the chairs, guests will be able to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the surrounding forest.
A compact wood finished staircase with a recessed handrail leads to the Mushroom's upper loft that serves as an area dedicated for children. Overhead, the pure white interior design has a soaring conical ceiling rounded at the top to evoke an image of the space extending upwards, unbounded by its structural confines.
Name: The Mushroom - a wood house in the forest
Project location: Jiangxi, China
Completion Year: 2020
Gross Built Area: 50 m2
Sean Shen, Xuanru Chen, Yuying Kate Tsai
Clients: TREE WOW
Contractor: Zhejiang Huzhou Deyi Construction Co., Ltd.
Structure Consultant:XIE Technologies
(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, intern at STIRworld.com)