Chatouya Visitor Center locates in Tianyu valley, 70 km away from Xi'an. It is the entrance of depth experience zone in the Qinling National Botanical Garden. The prior programs and appearance of visitor centre cannot meet client's new demands, hence whole site and buildings need to be upgraded. Through elaboration the position and breaking up whole new programs into parts, the new buildings, with preserved ones, are melt into natural environment and becomes a landscape settlement in Qinling Mountains.
The previous buildings is no reasonable layout and lack of respect to natural landscape. The three original buildings and big trees are preserved except removing restaurant volume. After completing site clean-up,we plans parking lot and toilet in the west side. The new boxes are placed into the east part of site. Following the guidance of natural landscape, all the boxes choose their appropriate size and location. Box of exhibition & visitor service is displayed in a relatively empty plots; Box of restaurant closes to river; Box of tea room faces to Cliff and box of toilet is hidden into bamboo trees. Those new boxes, attaching the preserved buildings, carefully disperse into elements of nature, create a prototype of the densely landscapes settlement.
The second step is that boxes are solidified two walls. The other two walls are pushed out far or near depending on program and view. Different height of the wall form a spatial overlap. At this moment, final layout is fixed. It consists of 6 groups of 8 buildings with different sizes. A total construction area is about 1,400 m2. The scattered layout brings a settlement-type spatial experience. The small volumes, accompanied by the separation and overlap of space composition, further digest the mass. Furthermore, it shows a poetic penetration between architecture and landscape.
Local materials is re-used. For example, the earth is re-rammed into walls, Chinese-style tile is recycled into Pavement. In the meantime, the metal panel and transparent glazing makes façade feel modern and transparent. The raw concrete of teahouse reinforces the sense of volume. While the striped texture of concrete gives the teahouse a better scale. The discrete and contrasting use of material strengthen the concept of landscape settlement. Traditional materials, embodying traces of time, constitute a tense relation with modern materials.
Learning from traditional village, each single building is linked by straight or curved grey slate footpath. Near the river, the overhead wooden walkway connect between river and landscape nodes. Enclosed by buildings, the courtyard is made by a cloud-shaped landscape pattern, decorated with recycled tiles and white stones. The rest of open space is paved by white pebbles from the river. Meanwhile, we set the sewage system for centralized sewage collection. After second purification treatment, it is used for plant irrigation. A rain garden is also set up in the low area to collect the rainwater from the roofs, and discharge the rainwater into river through ecological decontamination.
Four Seasons Tearoom
Four Seasons tea room, a single concrete box, with the size of 5X5m2, is placed along Tianyu River. Facing the river scenery, we set up two viewfinders. The upper is for cliff view, extended to "concave" shaped corner window by structural cantilevers. And it is pushed forward to form a large windowsill. The lower is for water view, by tectonic hiding of window frame, maximized the open landscape. The interior and exterior are all cast in concrete with stripe wooden molds. The platform is made of bamboo steel plate to form an integrated table and chair. Indoor fireplace is for winter warming, and external erected stairs is for cool summer viewing. Two teahouse have same shape, but the variety of borrowed scenery.
Functionally, the visitor center is a contemporary notion. Therefore, the original design concept was to try to respond the Qinling site within a contemporary lens. It should not be borrowed by the historical and cultural symbol, nor should it be influenced by the urban or rural style. In our minds, it should be simple and abstract. Both it makes landscapes and experience nature.