The Seeds by ZJJZ are oval holiday pods clad in aluminium tiles and pine shingles

A family of four seed-shaped wood houses designed by ZJJZ Atelier sits nestled in a Chinese pine forest, its cladding mirroring the natural surroundings and passing seasons.

by Jincy IypePublished on : Jun 12, 2021

ZJJZ Atelier has dressed four elevated oval holiday cabins called 'The Seeds wood houses' in mirrored aluminum tiles that rise up to meet pine shingles. Located in the village of Jiangxi in China, the off-grid guest houses are named so because of their organic shape, and have continuous, ellipsoidal surfaces that echo their natural surroundings and reflect the seasons in perpetuity.  

  • Aerial view of The Seeds designed by ZJJZ | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    Aerial view of The Seeds designed by ZJJZ Image: Fangfang Tian
  • Two of the four seed shaped holiday cabins | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    Two of the four seed-shaped holiday cabins Image: Fangfang Tian

The mirrored metal cladding performs like an architectural chameleon, taking on “the lustre of red soil in winter, green plants in spring and summer, mist when wet, and sunshine on bright days,” explains the Shanghai-based architecture and design firm, ZJJZ. “Like the roots of a plant, this reflective cladding anchors each house to the earth, while the pine shingles give the structures a warm, soft aesthetic, allowing these to blend into the surrounding nature,” they continue.

The pine shingles give a warm aesthetic, allowing the pods to merge with nature | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
The pine shingles give a warm aesthetic, allowing the pods to merge with nature Image: Courtesy of TREE WOW

Pine shingles cover most of the facades, except for the rounded undersides, which are dressed in shiny aluminium tiles that make appearances at random on the exterior for visual relief.

Each 60 sqm pod is designed with circular openings | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
Each 60 sqm pod is designed with circular openings Image: Fangfang Tian
Mirrored aluminium tiles rise up to meet pine shingles that dress most of the exterior | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
Mirrored aluminium tiles rise up to meet pine shingles that dress most of the exterior Image: Fangfang Tian

Each pod has been designed with several circular holes that create internal sight lines branching off in different directions. These apertures cater to the functional demands of the space and to regulate natural light and ventilation within.

Each wood house has an attached circular terrace | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
Each wood house has an attached circular terrace Image: Fangfang Tian

The largest opening on the front has sliding doors that open to a spacious, circular terrace. Resting on pillars, the terrace seems like a floating stone platform. A tree pierces the terrace of one of the Seed houses, to provide shade and greenery, while a round window on the side of the structure faces sparse woods. A similar, bigger oculus window rests in the cosy attic, to reveal treetops and the skies.  

  • The circular opening on the front has sliding doors which open onto the terrace | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    The circular opening on the front has sliding doors which open onto the terrace Image: Fangfang Tian
  • An oculus window floods the attic space with light | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    An oculus window floods the attic space with light Image: Courtesy of ZJJZ
  • The bedroom, like the rest of the interiors, are clad in wooden panels | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    The bedroom, like the rest of the interiors, are clad in wooden panels Image: Courtesy of ZJJZ

The interior design features undulant as well as straight surfaces clad in panels of wood, where the stripes formed by the natural colour difference of timber further exaggerate the egg shape of the pods. Accessed by an external staircase, the entrance lies behind the master bedroom, along with the bathroom and a storage room. This area leads to an attic space that has been dedicated to children, with a view of the main space below. An oculus window here floods the attic and the floor below in natural light. A narrow, elliptical staircase connects the space to the floor below, intersecting the entryway to form yet another intriguing, carved-out space.

  • A narrow, elliptical staircase connects the living room to the attic | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    A narrow, elliptical staircase connects the living room to the attic Image: Courtesy of ZJJZ
  • View from the attic of the floor and balcony below | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    View from the attic of the floor and balcony below Image: Fangfang Tian

The Seeds was developed for Tree Wow, who wanted the structures to be based on a form found in nature. Instead of mere mimicry, ZJJZ decided on developing the spatial retreat by staging views and establishing a direct relationship between the buildings and their surrounding environment. “They seemed to arise from another dimension, looking nothing like we had originally planned,” shares the design team, who also designed The Mushroom guesthouse for the same client last year.

  • (L-R) Room Plan, Loft Plan and Roof Plan | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    (L-R) Room Plan, Loft Plan and Roof Plan Image: Courtesy of ZJJZ
  • Section | The Seeds by ZJJZ | STIRworld
    Section Image: Courtesy of ZJJZ

Project Details

Name: The Seeds - Wood Houses
Location: Jiangxi, China
Client: TREE WOW
Gross Built Area: 60 sqm each
Year of Completion: 2020
Architect: ZJJZ
Design Team: Yuying Kate Tsai, Xuanru Chen, Sean Shen
Structure Consultant: XIE Technologies

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