Text description provided by the architects. The Snow Apartment by penda is located in Zhangjiakou, which is a famous skiing region 160km North of Beijing and offers a weekend-getaway for the client and his friends.
The design of the apartment is inspired by a melting snowfield in spring, when nature slowly revives from winter and offers a contrast of cold and warm, white and colored. This atmosphere was translated into architecture by hand-plastered, white shells, which cover walls and the ceiling and create a seamless space, which guides visitors naturally through the apartment. The curves of the interior responds in a very direct way to the outside landscape of mountains and valleys.
Introducing a warm and natural element into the apartment, the white shells are partially cutted by wooden boxes, which provide areas for relaxing, communicating and displaying artwork. The walls are lifted up 5cm and backlit which creates a clear differentiation between the white shells and the wooden fir-floor. The upper parts of the shells are partly cutted and back-lit by LEDs as well. Therfore the ceiling becomes a field of ambient lighting, forming an atmospherical and organisational element throughout the apartment.
The shells flow through the space, creating hybrid conditions of the hallway, the public areas and the private rooms. The layout of the apartment features 7 bedrooms, a large cloakroom and storage for the skiing equipment, several bathrooms and a large living room in its center. The curved walls guide the guests to a spiral staircase, which leads to the upper floor of the apartment, offering a more formal living and dining experience with direct access to a large roof terrace.
To enable this uniform - seamless space, undulated timber slates create a back-layer, on which local craftsmen hand-plastered the white, rough wall-finish. Using plaster is very common element in the north of China and has a long tradition, which can be seen in the accurate details in the apartment. Using the local knowledge of the craftsmen’s technique of how to use plaster for double curved walls (instead of CNC milled panels), gives the apartment a very natural and honest ambience.
A network of heating pipes is resting behind the plastered shells and emits its warmth through the walls into the apartment. The warmness together with the handcrafted finish of the shells provide a very haptic and cozy feeling to the guests, when they return from a cold day on the skiing slopes.