LINDEN CENTER AT SHILONG VILLAGE | Xiaxi,China | 2017
Architects: Anderson Anderson Architecture
Associate Architects: Studio X / Kunming Urban Planning and Design Institute
Client: Linden Centre
Photographers: All Image by Anderson Anderson Architecture.
Site strategy Public area: The courtyard is surrounded by a covered outdoor walkway/lobby space that is a continuous space with the bridge/exhibition/viewing/hotel entry lobby space. This is important in creating a strong indoor/outdoor relationship, creating a variety of different shade/sunlight/view/program opportunities in this flexible space that works as the “lobby” and “living room” heart of the complex, carved out of the clearing in the forest, and establishing different views and micro climates and activity zones on different sides and positions of the building. The main entry bridge is developed as a covered observation/exhibition space, but without sidewalls, so that it is open air. This is an important “lobby” and view space that is a central image of the hotel and frames the hotel entry as well as framing the major pathway between Shilong and Shaxi. Private area: The hotel rooms are laid out not so much as rooms but as little “cottages” so that they can be phased in with additional units as needed. Our strategy has been to carefully insert the public spaces and rooms so that they fill the already disturbed areas of the site, where it has been used as a path for herding animals. By working very carefully with the current pattern of the topography, vegetation, trees, scars and then overlaying these with the logic of views, sunlight, privacy between units, construction sequence the project can layer up a richness of site-specific form and unexpected angles and adjacencies that make for the richness of the space. This is much the way a traditional village develops, with many overlays of site-specific logic and decision that add up over time. The room placement is an intense process of “divining” the placement of the public spaces and room orientations. They should all feel unique and well-rooted in their sites. We want them to feel very different from any other hotel room or house, and instead to feel as though they are modern outgrowths of this unique site and its local ways of building. People should feel that sleeping here is a unique experience that is unlike any other place, yet is rooted in deep local tradition. We then have taken each room and worked it into its site such that every room has equally excellent views Materials and Construction Methods The materials of the rooms and public space are based on what we learned in our team’s site visits, and are based on using primarily local labor and materials. This is important in keeping costs low, maximizing local cultural continuity, providing local jobs and income, creating good feelings and local pride in this new construction in their village. It is more sustainable and in keeping with the cultural and environmental ethos of the Linden Center. Careful use of these materials and craft tradition is also an essential element in the national park experience and the opportunity for visitors to feel at one with the history and nature of this place. The materials are one aspect of this, and respect for the craft tradition and way of using the materials is also important. We are working hard to develop and maintain this integrity in the design and construction. The rammed earth is the primary “wrapper”, like a blanket of privacy, protection and womb-like mass and isolation around the room. Within the room, the combined bed and sitting space are intimate, but built within a space defining timber frame that gives definition and slight separation between the room functions. This is important in terms of spatial and material richness, and in terms of comfort with having a friend visit for drinks in the sitting room and terrace, without feeling that everyone is right by the private bed and right next to the bathroom. The timber frame also establishes a traditional Chinese bed enclosure, elevating the experience of sleeping in this space to a rich poetic experience, with the highest point of the room as a special canopy for the bed, providing glimpses of the sky, treetops and moonlight. At the same time, this high canopy above the bed creates a thermal chimney that cools the room naturally without air conditioning and allowing natural, open air from above without the worry of unlocked windows at a lower level. These bed canopy/chimneys are also iconic elements on the roof scape of the village of bedrooms, signifying the essential presence of the comfortable bed as the unifying theme of the quiet village.