Light plays an extraordinary game of hide-and-seek, somehow appearing to be nowhere while actually being everywhere. The Ahn Luh Guantang Resort and Residence in the west of China’s Sichuan region embodies a way of thinking about light and dark, and all the gradations between the two. From the outset, underlying this project in the city of Chengdu was a desire to create an environment that would mirror its setting in this region of both mountains and plains that’s crossed by the longest river in Asia. This was a key element in creating this space for recharging the mind and body in nature that harnesses the soul of its setting and its infinite gradations of light.
“With a quiet mind, a whole new universe can be formed. A peaceful mind can create greatness.” This is the spirit of Ahn Luh, a spirit interpreted by Pro.Lighting Consultant (Pro.L) in its lighting design for the resort. Natural light, artificial light, and darkness chase each other through every space in the resort, creating an effect poised between suffused light and darkness through the use of lamps, lanterns, and spotlights. The idea is to help guests get in touch with the meaning of life and the surrounding nature, without forgetting the materials that compose it. The walls are therefore rammed earth, the pitched roofs are straw, and the beams, according to tradition, are wood. This use of natural materials establishes a chromatic and structural continuity with the outside, creating the impression that the building is hidden among the trees.
During the day, the sun’s rays are able to penetrate and fill every room, from the lobby to the wellness center, passing through the grid structures of some walls or between the textures of the doors and windows. At night, darkness hides everything. This dialogue between the dimensions of light and dark is intended to increase guests’ wellbeing, as are the various artificial lighting products used, all of which are hidden in the structure and as good as invisible. Sometimes the walls and ceilings themselves seem to be the source of light.
Besides being distinguished by a delicate brightness, the lobby presents the many faces of Sichuan in its raw materials. It’s here that the ingenuity of the stone pillars and the simplicity of the ceiling beams can be seen side by side, reflecting the “thickness” and “thinness” of western Sichuan. A grille in the lobby also filters light, adding a subtle, hazy touch to the beauty of the space.
The tranquility of the surrounding countryside is reproduced within the bar, an orderly open space with numerous tables. The privacy of each table is created by a chiaroscuro effect that recalls the organization of traditional dining rooms in Chinese houses.
The potential of light is also harnessed in the wellness center, with lights shining up from the bottom of the swimming pool to the outside, eliminating any sense of separation between inside and out.
Pro.L has worked with the relatively few elements in its lighting design with skill and sophistication, with everything gravitating around the concept of returning to our origins and to nature. The result has achieved what can be described as an empathy with the light and traditions of Sichuan.
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan (China)
Lighting Design: Pro.L
Chief Lighting Designers: Li Hui , Fu Li
Interior Design: Studio Affandy & Yeo
Floor Area: 20.000 m2
Building Area: 9.150 m2
Photography by Zhong Yonggang, courtesy Pro.Lighting