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Sunyata Hotel Meili / Zhaoyang Architects

Sunyata Hotel Meili / Zhaoyang Architects

exterior. Image © Hao Chenrammed earth wall and metal facade. Image © Hao Chenlobby. Image © Hao Chenspace series from 2F to 4F . Image © Hao Chen+ 49

Diqing, China
  • Design Team:Yang Zhao, Dian Wang, Le Li, David Dufourcq,Haowen Bai,Xiang Ding, Nan Zhang, Yejing Zhou
  • Furnishing Design:Ke Xie, Shang Yi Yang
  • Structure Design:Zhigang Ma
  • Electromechanical Design:Beijing Kalin Architectural Design Co. Ltd.
  • Client:Travelling With Hotel Management Co. Ltd.
  • City:Diqing
  • Country:China
More SpecsLess Specs
exterior. Image © Hao Chen
exterior. Image © Hao Chen

Text description provided by the architects. Sunyata Hotel Meili is a renovation and extension project. It’s renovated from Migratory Bird Inn. The hotel is located at Wunongding village of Deqin county, Diqing autonomous prefecture of Tibetan minority. The land belongs to the 23rd family of the village. Migratory Bird Inn itself was renovated from a vernacular Tibetan house, which had a orthogonal timber frame of 48 columns. Considering the potential problem of load, waterproof, sound insulation and fire protection, the timber structure had been removed and replaced by a concrete frame structure. However, the façade made from rammed earth had been kept, and the square plan layout with a courtyard at its center had been inherited too. After its completion, Migratory Bird Inn had become a important landmark along the 214 national highway. It’s been celebrated as the location with the best vista towards the snow mountain of Kawakarpo, the first of the eight sacred mountains of Tibet.

west facade. Image © Hao Chen
west facade. Image © Hao Chen

In 2015, Mr. Guoping Lai(founder of Travelling with Co.) decided to transform Migratory Bird Inn into a small boutique hotel. The new hotel will overcome the severe winter and operates year round.

rammed earth wall and metal facade. Image © Hao Chen
rammed earth wall and metal facade. Image © Hao Chen

Site Strategy
The first priority was to increase the floor area of the project. Therefore we had to break the limit of the rigid square plan of the rammed – earth house. The gentle slope to the south leads our view to the village that is several hundred meters away. We attach a triangular shaped restaurant to the south façade of the original building. The section of the restaurant fits the inclination of the topography, directing the view of the interior to the village far and bellow. As a result, dinning tables arranged on every terrace of the restaurant enjoys the view with ease.

analysis diagram
analysis diagram
model
model

We took the advantage of the gap space between the original building and the rugged edge of the topography to the north, and added two rooms and some service spaces with a façade made from the local masonry. The appearance of this part gives am impression of a retaining wall.

hotel view from restaurant. Image © Hao Chen
hotel view from restaurant. Image © Hao Chen

We enclosed the roof terrace on the third floor of the original building and transformed this area into guest rooms. And the lounge with the panoramic view towards the snow mountain was raised to the fourth floor and covered by a horizontal eave and enveloped by giant glass sliding doors. The periphery of the eave and the balustrade of the new roof terrace define the upper and lower boundary of the vista, but the gaze along the horizon drifts smoothly, thanks to the 270°transparency of the lounge.

mountain view from hotel's top floor. Image © Hao Chen
mountain view from hotel's top floor. Image © Hao Chen
indoor and outdoor space of restaurant. Image © Hao Chen
indoor and outdoor space of restaurant. Image © Hao Chen

The Atrium
In order to protect the building from the extreme weather in the winter, we covered the courtyard of the original building and transformed it into an atrium. This atrium is the heart of the hotel and also the most difficult part of the design. First, we removed part of the floor of the second floor, and improved the proportion of the lobby space. Secondly, we raised the floor of the atrium to the second floor and created a little library at the bottom of the atrium. The library and the lobby is therefore spatially related on the section, and the arriving guests can be attracted to start a vertical journey from below.Finally, we use three flights of stairs to connect the lobby, the library and the lounge on the top floor. This arrangement of vertical circulation is the most direct and compact design of the stairs we could think of. Especially the two flights from the library to the fourth floor appear almost iconic. The steel truss hiding in the stucco balustrade overcomes the span of the stairs. The abstract form of the stairs creates a moment shifting from the everyday life of a hotel and a sense of monumentality of a religious architecture. We consider a metaphor of a pilgrimage route would be appropriate for the stair leading to the view of a sacred mountain.

golden roof and atrium. Image © Hao Chen
golden roof and atrium. Image © Hao Chen
model section
model section
space series from 2F to 4F . Image © Hao Chen
space series from 2F to 4F . Image © Hao Chen

We introduced two clerestory windows at the east and west side at the top of the atrium, and a tapestry made from 1364 copper plates is suspended at both ends of the atrium’s roof. Therefore, daylight is evenly introduced into the atrium with the help of the reflection from tapestry’s gold foil surface.

golden roof. Image © Hao Chen
golden roof. Image © Hao Chen
roof analysis diagram
roof analysis diagram
look up to golden roof. Image © Hao Chen
look up to golden roof. Image © Hao Chen

Considering the remoteness of the hotel, the journey to see the Kawakarpo mountain is itself a pilgrimage. In a way, the hotel can be regarded as a temple worshiping the sacred mountain. It just functions as a hotel. After climbing the ladder in the awe-inspiring space of the atrium, contemplating Kawakarpo is far more than an overlook of the “National geographic” style.

space series from 2F to 4F . Image © Hao Chen
space series from 2F to 4F . Image © Hao Chen
golden roof view from bar. Image © Hao Chen
golden roof view from bar. Image © Hao Chen
southern side of bar. Image © Pianfang Studio
southern side of bar. Image © Pianfang Studio

Material and Construction
The original rammed-earth of the façade was covered and protected by a layer of concrete mortar. In order to fulfill the requirement of the new hotel, we demolished the original façade and recycled its soil. The new rammed-earth facade is solidified by a small portion of fixing agent and cement and is therefore more robust and enduring. The window on the façade is 1.5 m wide, far beyond the capacity of traditional wood window casing. The new window case is made from cast concrete with polished surface. In order to maximize the purity of the view, we put the operable part of the window at its bottom side. The deep recess of the concrete window casing protects the wood window frame from most of the rain, snow and direct sunshine.

facade night view. Image © Tantan Lei
facade night view. Image © Tantan Lei

We used steel frame structure and metal jacket to erect and envelope the restaurant and the roof lounge. The lightness of structure and materiality give the appearance of these two extension parts a look of temporariness.

rammed earth wall and stone wall. Image Courtesy of Zhaoyang Architects
rammed earth wall and stone wall. Image Courtesy of Zhaoyang Architects

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Project location

Address:Wunongding Village, Deqin County, Diqing Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China

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Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Sunyata Hotel Meili / Zhaoyang Architects" 02 May 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/936572/sunyata-hotel-meili-zhaoyang-architects> ISSN 0719-8884
© Hao Chen

梅里雪山既下山酒店 / 赵扬建筑工作室

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