Design Team: Long Zuo, Alex Lara, Changding Li, Lubin Chen, Zhaoqi Lai, Shicheng Lin, Mei Cheng, Yifan Tang, Yunjie Jiang
Construction: Zhenhai Lei
Text description provided by the architects. GEEMU Resort is a boutique hotel that explores local culture through community building and a child-friendly design. It is located in the ethereal town of Yangshuo, China, on a former self-built structure. The project explores the strategies to transform an archetypal building into an architectural and community significance.
With the opening of high-speed train station in early 2016, Xingping County suddenly rose to be a tourism destination in southern China. Hotels and guesthouses have been sprouting alongside the river, and local residents have since built many concrete houses in hopes of leasing them to visitors.
In the context of GEEMU's conception, when we initially arrived at the site, we were at loss with the banality and low-efficiency of the given space. It was located perhaps too close to the hill and its volume was a bit imposing in contrast to the small rural houses that surrounded it.
The strategy was to accept the existing conditions and establish co-existence with the new. Constrained by structure and changing conditions of property rights, the main part of the building is maintained as a living space, as originally envisioned, while new programs protrude out in smaller boxes, posing conversational gestures with its surrounding, and compromising its scale. The main facade is finished with granite-stucco coating, while the boxes are earth-colored to mark their difference.
The ground floor has an impressive permeability, due to its original height and large span, the concrete frames were all optimized tectonically. The new lobby area inherits and celebrates this ambiguity of indoor-outdoor, by integrating the reception, dinning and service areas to the west, maximizing the public space with theater, playground, reading room and more. Furthermore, the sliding doors and large 4x3m glass doors create versatile and generous stage for future events.
There are few spaces in the structural system to maneuver above ground floor, however, the renovation divides the middle room as an addition to the side rooms, creating a child scaled bedroom and play area within a suite, which is connected to the atrium and free from regular circulation. Interiorized relationships with surroundings are molded by walls, glasses and brick glasses.
The atrium, introduced as a vertical intervention to change horizontal organization of the plan transformed the previously dark hallways into a lit up space and full of possibilities. With two long slides, the atrium provides new dynamics and breaks the regular circulation and connect the floors as one space. The division of the middle room and installation of core-wall established the principles of structural reinforcement.
GEEMU doesn’t seek standardized residence and service, but a new comfort zone in between hotel and kindergarten. The space inspires curiosity and interaction through details. In contrast with the fragmented digital age, the building paints a distant yet consoling vision of innocence and intimacy.