- Design Team: Qi Xue, Qi Zheng, Yining Gao, Yuqian Yang
- Client: Tree Wow
- City: Xinyu
- Country: China
Text description provided by the architects. The project is located in a corner of the Xiannv Lake Nature Reserve on the southwestern side of Xinyu City, Jiangxi Province, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and surrounded by hills, woods, fields, and a lake. The nature experience center is part of the overall resort design, providing visitors with nature experiences, public services, and a pristine living experience. The main design challenge was to achieve the function of a large volume of buildings while preserving the landscape and maintaining a low-intensity development of the natural ground.
After several investigations of the site and constant refinement in the working model, the volume was finally located in a flat space between two hills, along a north-south direction to stitch the slopes on both sides. In order to avoid the building's length being overwhelming to the natural environment, the building resembles Moby Dick, a massive body, that tumbles through the landscape, trying to swallow the side of the wood into itself. The silvery-white metal skin of the building reflects the light from the lake and mountains, and the undulating roof beautifully mimics and replicates the surrounding terrain.
The huge roof opens up to the landscape on the side of the center, which is adjacent to the fields and the reservoir. The continuous transparent glass curtain wall tries to erase the boundary between inside and outside, and the low eaves frame the landscape into a natural painting scroll, inspiring people to enjoy nature from different angles. The 6-meter eaves are designed in response to the rainy weather conditions of the area, allowing visitors to breathe in the fresh scent of the fields in all conditions. The curling aluminum roof of this man-made hill slopes down in the west to the ground only lifting upwards at one point to form the main entrance of the building, preventing a full view of the interior and creating a mystery box for a surprise. Functions such as an information center, café, bookshop, conference, and catering are hidden beneath this free-form roof.
The steel skeleton supports the entire skin of the building, and the exposed structural system of the interior goes together with the breathing and undulating roof shape, creating a theatrical space producing a fantastical experience like Pinocchio in the belly of the whale. The layout of the furniture is modeled on the shape of the archipelago. The original trees at the site are also preserved and freely pass through the body of Moby Dick, revealing the symbiotic subject between architecture and nature.
Wooden houses in different forms are designed on the borders of the woods, fields, and ponds, responding to the terrain facing different directions and views, either close to the fields or overlooking the ponds, creating more possibilities for visitors to rest for a long period of time in the countryside. The tiles on the skin are sculpted with natural mechanisms, when time passes by, the skin will eventually blend in with its surroundings.