Thanks GOA for authorizing the publication of the project on mooool, Text description provided by GOA.



GOA: “Along a winding path, We walk off the road to the entrance of Alila Wuzhen. The plain-looking gate signals a change of scenes, like what we see in a movie, Reminding us of the start of a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the world Into a land of serenity and peace. Under the immaculately white roof, The shadows of verdant trees dance on the tranquil lake. From the lobby outward, we are greeted with a picturesque idyllic dwelling.”




Most people associate Wuzhen with a mesmerizing picture dotted with Ma Tau walls, stone arch bridges and black-awning boats. In designing Alila Wuzhen, GOA wanted to transcend the association to create a new image of Wuzhen as a modern water town in the 21st century. Through an integration of planning, construction, interior design, and furniture and furnishings, the designers achieved a consistent and complete expression.



开放的起点 The Start of a Game-Changing Design


Alila Wuzhen is located in Wuzhen, Tongxiang, Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province. Approximately 3 kilometers east of the picturesque tourist attraction, the project site, while being situated inside the water town, has no natural waters and plants except for one wetland on its south. Its eastern and northern sides are adjacent to urban roads. Despite its positioning as a high-end resort hotel, the project site does not boast any outstanding landscape resources; however, this provides a new start for an independent and game-changing design.


▽ 场景动图 Scene animation



What should be done to establish an emotional bond between the isolated site and vacationers? What are people looking for in the well-known Wuzhen?



一座现代的村落 A Modern Place of Dwelling


The layout of the hotel is fashioned after traditional settlements in water towns in Jiangnan (a geographic area in China referring to lands immediately to the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River), especially their public spaces and combinations of public and private spaces. During the design process, iconic elements of the traditional public spaces, such as village cores, nozzles, alleys and canals, are highlighted, and the scale and system of traditional streets and alleys are retained. In addition, the way alleys and paths are intertwined in traditional rustic settlements is also featured in the design to form a windmill-shaped grid system.


▽ 风车形结构是阿丽拉乌镇重要的空间特征 The windmill-shaped structure is an important spatial feature of Alila Wuzhen




The windmill-shaped grid of streets and alleys enables the connection of multiple paths within a radius of 50 meters. Despite a limited space, a sophisticated system of paths is created, thus reproducing the organization of traditional streets and alleys. What’s more, through the grid system, public spaces are evenly laid out across the site, each an ideal place for roaming and resting. Because of their public attributes, such public spaces are also perfect places for gatherings and parking of shuttle buses, thus fully adapting to the needs of the model hotel. Its 卍-shaped grid of streets and alleys enables the connection of multiple paths within a radius of 50 meters. Despite a limited space, a sophisticated system of paths is created, thus reproducing the organization of traditional streets and alleys. What’s more, through the grid system, public spaces are evenly laid out across the site, each being an ideal place for roaming and resting. Because of their public attributes, such public spaces are also perfect places for gatherings and parking of shuttle buses, thus fully adapting to the needs of the model hotel.


▽ 阿丽拉乌镇公区入口 Entrance of Wuzhen Public District in Alila



The architectural design features a neat and minimalistic geometric outline. Horizontal lines aptly manipulate the visual presentation of the construction, highlighting the towering silhouettes of the fir trees. The low-lying skyline is mirrored on the water surface in the central water yard, creating an impressive feeling of openness and extensiveness and forming a shape contrast with the winding path leading to the entrance.


▽ 在穿行中,人们体验到空间的疏密、聚散和光影变换 During the journey, people experience the density, gathering and dispersion of space, and the transformation of light and shadow



The height differences of the hotel buildings are appropriately controlled within a very tiny range, ensuring a smooth transition among all interior and exterior spaces. Abrupt boundaries are eliminated. A walk in such a continuum of buildings can spontaneously evoke a feeling of peace and stability.


▽ 极小的室内外高差将建筑与自然环境联结为一个完整的体系 The extremely small height difference between indoor and outdoor connects the building and the natural environment into a complete system



The design presents a continuous sequence of spaces enabling rambling and exploration. With houses, waters, yards and walls defining paths and forming links between indoor and outdoor spaces, people can continuously wander and explore the delights of the resort hotel, and experience the interesting changes and variations rendered through subtle contrasts of density and looseness, gathering and scattering, and light and shadow.


▽ 泳池面向湿地打开,人的视野延伸向无限的自然之中 The swimming pool opens to the wetland, and people’s vision extends to the infinite nature


一座自然的迷宫 A Natural Labyrinth 


Wuzhen has a history of more than 1,300 years. As a result of the humid climate unique to the Yangtze River Delta, Wuzhen features a maze of waters and plains and a transportation system mainly characterized by water transportation. Over a long span of time, local people’s work and life have been woven into the background of natural sceneries.


▽ 在漫长的历史中,乌镇的生活早已与自然交融在一起 In the long history, life in Wuzhen has long been fused with nature



The close relationship between man and nature is invaluable for modern urbanites.


Therefore, it’s also a priority for the architects to create a natural landscape at the site of Alila Wuzhen. According to the architectural plan, the wetland on the south is blended northward into the scenic design of the site by creating water alleys of 3 to 5 meters long. As it also adopts the windmill-shaped structure, the scenic system of water alleys is naturally interknitted with streets, lanes and alleys to form an interesting maze waiting for exploration.


▽水巷景观系统遵循风车形布局结构,宛若一座自然迷宫 The water lane landscape system follows a windmill-shaped layout structure, like a natural labyrinth



In the exterior walls of the courtyards, there are wooden windows facing water lanes and alleys, and people can enjoy the bubbling sound and charming view of water waves in their own courtyard. Public spaces such as the swimming pool and the restaurant are maximally open to incorporate natural sceneries and blur the boundaries between the artificial construction and nature.


▽开启庭院的木窗,便能听到徐徐水波,仿佛旧时的水乡人家 Open the wooden windows of the courtyard, and you can hear the water waves slowly, just like the old water villages.



Fir trees, a native plant, are preserved, and combined with other evergreen trees such as camphor tree and a wide variety of deciduous dungarunga plants, constituting an evergreen landscape studded with a riot of seasonal colors throughout the year. The biggest surprise is that thanks to the improvement of the ecological environment, white egrets now start to frequent the site, forming a lovely scene in Alila Wuzhen.


▽阿丽拉乌镇为自然与人建立起一种静谧的连接 Alila Wuzhen establishes a peaceful connection between nature and people


一座抽象的水乡 An Abstract Water Town 


The buildings in Alila Wuzhen are characterized by a combination of only two colors, white and grey, and abstract geometric shapes are presented by establishing relations among the skies, water surfaces and fir trees. In this way, the architect manages to separate the image of the water town from specific symbols such as the age and style of buildings and reconstruct an expression order related only to nature.


▽大堂简约的用色,将视线的焦点引向户外 The simple use of colors in the lobby brings the focus of sight to the outdoors



The selection of materials and colors is based on the same order system. According to the architectural scheme, smooth metal and artificially treated stone should be used to replace decorative surface materials. Eventually, dark grey aluminum alloy and white granite are used to build the roofs and walls of the public areas.


▽柔和的天光弥漫在餐厅空间 The soft sky fills the restaurant space



The façade is built on the basis of gradient masonry to introduce subtle changes into the continuum of spaces at the site. The variations in the texture of the façade align with the idea of the traditional brick walls while improving the ventilation and lighting, making the buildings more suitable for modern dwelling needs.


▽渐变花格墙为宁静的“村落”注入几分跃动的节奏 The gradual grating wall injects a bit of dynamism into the quiet “village”



Kaohua Pavilion is a unique cultural symbol in Wuzhen. In the traditional wax printing process, the dyed cloth should be aired in the Kaohua Pavilion, which is an iconic element of the local culture and an important place for work and gathering. At the sunken bar of the water courtyard, the image of the Kaohua Pavilion is employed, yet free from a mechanical reproduction of the traditional form. Instead, the architect uses soft metal meshes as the interfaces to abstractly create the traditional place for gathering, and highlight it as a spiritual symbol on the extensive lake.


▽滨水酒吧的设计,完成了传统拷花亭的现代转译 The design of the waterfront bar completes the modern translation of the traditional Kaohua Pavilion


时空交叠的体验 An Unrivalled Experience Based on the Entwinement of Time and Space


Sitting quietly on the waterfront at the southernmost tip of Alila Wuzhen, one will feel as if the picture consisting of the wetland, isles and fir trees were extending endlessly. The horizon extends onwards to interact with the infinite nature. White egrets slides past the surface of the water, small waves rippling gently across the otherwise tranquil lake and in the viewer’s heart.


▽阿丽拉乌镇的家具均由建筑师一体化设计 The furniture in Alila Wuzhen is designed by architects



Through Alila Wuzhen, the architect strives to present a maze with a fusion of ancient and modern elements where modern people can come for relaxation. In a sense, it is more like a special expression of time – here, modern and traditional elements, free from stereotyped definitions given in specific times and contexts, are cleverly abstracted, reproduced and mixed. Wandering inside Alila Wuzhen, people can feel peaceful and serene. This is exactly a gift that the architects want to present to every vacationer here.





建筑面积:25,000 ㎡

Location: Jiaxing, Zhejiang
Design / Completion: 2014-2018
Building Area: 25,000 m2
Image Copyright: Schran Image , GOA, Alila Wuzhen



审稿编辑 王琪 –  Maggie

更多 Read more about: goa大象设计