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Guesthouse Wa Shan

Amateur Architecture

Guesthouse Wa Shan
By Francesco Pagliari -

The guesthouse and reception centre Wa Shan incorporates several key considerations regarding architecture’s role that are dear to the Amateur Architecture Studio practice of Wang Shu and Lu Wenyu. These include questions like how vernacular traditions can be embedded into contemporary forms, the intricate way architecture relates to and transforms the natural environment in which it is placed, and how materials, spaces and visual elements can convey an atmosphere of meditation and poetry.
Set longitudinally on an east-west axis to conform to the natural lay of the land, this long narrow construction coursed through by pedestrian walkways on several levels, conveys just such an atmosphere of meditation and poetry. Nine independent functional units reminiscent of vernacular architecture around a central court and lying on a north-south axis are connected to form a long line flowing east to west. Their functions range from teahouse and communal areas to Chinese and Western-style restaurant, and guest accommodation. The diverse units have been strung together by a series of walkways, platforms, resting areas, openings in the courtyard structure, and small reflective ponds. The visual permeability they allow make for an exquisitely natural overall result.
The main unifying feature, however, is the long snaking pitched roof. This is the programme’s distinctive, monumental feature. Although comprising many different sections and pitches, the roof forms a single broad structure recalling traditional covered urban spaces affording protection from the elements. Clad in re-claimed tiles, it references traditional building typologies. A short rooftop walkway offers incomparable views of the surrounding landscape. On the underside, the intricate pattern of the timber soffit turns an elaborate technical feature into expressive architecture.
By employing a series of different features, materials and techniques, the volume becomes a distillate of...

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