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Shulin Architectural Design：Ma’er Shan village is 25 minutes’ drive from the major town area of Zhangjiajie. Compared to the astounding cliffs and valleys of Zhangjiajie scenic area, the mountains in Ma’er Shan village are not as exquisite yet still inherit a strong scent of rural joys through its lush green environment and scattering country houses. The site used to possess two wood-structured barbecue pavilions surrounded by pines, China-berry trees, ginkgo trees, and a bamboo copse. Gazing towards the north, the visitor will receive an expansive vision of continuous mountains, as seeing a panoramic landscape painting unfolding itself. The environment and the atmosphere thoroughly inspired us during the design of Woodsy Whisper residence.
▼西北侧仰看民宿视角 Northeast side upward view
缘起｜How we get started
Ma’er Shan village provides decent conditions for construction; meanwhile, as an example of Zhangjiajie’s “Construction of Beautiful Villages” campaign, the village also has a stable tourism demand from local tourists, especially during weekends. The estate owner has a deep reminiscence towards the village as the birthplace; therefore, the project was asked to facilitate the owner’s need for comfortable stays during home returns and maintain the spiritual importance defined by its rural characteristics.
▼南侧远看民宿与远山的关系 Southside bird’s view, showing the resort corresponding with distant mountains
▼北侧鸟瞰林木环绕的民宿 Overlooking the tree-covered resort to the north
▼项目区位及视线关系 Location and horizon
▼横轴山景 The mountain scenery
▼轴测场景图 Axonometric drawing
场地策略和场所精神｜Design strategies and intentions
The construction site, consisting of three homestead areas, has a narrow shape and a 3-meter height difference from east to west. Two homestead areas located at west combined, with the lower one located at the east, together established bases of two main structures of the entire residence: the upper-wide section and the lower-narrow section, connected through a half-transparent sky bridge. The field’s height difference between north and south was utilized to create an underground section used for maintenance storage and equipment closets; the east side vacant space caused by the height difference between east and west was used to create an opened-up gray space that serves as a multipurpose semi-outdoor area for residents’ various needs. The landscape water system in the field follows the path of outdoor steps, forming multiple mini waterfalls, enriching the walking experience with a continuous audio presence of water streams.
▼方案推演过程 Scheme deduction process
▼顺应地形逐级而下的台阶和水景 Outdoor steps and landscape water system trend downwards following the terrain
▼架空的灰空间，远山若隐若现 The gray space formed by vacant vertical space, with distant mountains
Distant mountains and neighboring woods compose the most distinctive viewing experience gained at the center of the field; therefore, surrounding woods were preserved mainly to continue the field’s sense of space. The residence is sheltered by woods, while the residence shelters the people within; such a charming paralleled relationship not only retained the mysteriousness of this half-hidden space but also elevated the ground-level walking experiences. Changes in plantations’ posture during four seasons can also impose influences in surrounding opacity, as the residence will get a different look during the lush greens of summer than the baldness of winter.
▼透过树木看向民宿 Look at the B&B through the trees
As a significant scenic element, the view of distant mountains was thoughtfully placed throughout various spaces, hoping to be seen through different manners. While the shape of distant mountains remains half-hidden by surrounding woods in the lower section of the residence, as people going upwards, with their field of view expanding, the expansive landscape of continuous mountains will also gradually unfolds itself. The way distant mountains have been introduced into interior designs of guest rooms also varies through different windowing designs, including long scroll landscape, framed scene, and continuous segmented frames, each of them, contemplates with different types and sizes of interior spaces.
▼远山长卷横轴框景 Long scroll landscape view of distant mountains
▼连续断框画幅远山框景 Continuous segmented framed view of distant mountains
▼片段式远山框景 Snapped frames of distant mountains
The residence boundary is far beyond the perimeter of the building itself; the surrounding woods, neighboring country houses, distant mountains, nearby farmland, and bamboo copses all serve as a vital part that together assembled the residence’s vibrant environment. With visitors immersed within, such an environment also centered at all residence’s spacing and scenic designs.
▼北侧仰看民宿， 立面被树木包围 Northside upward view, the facade surrounding by trees
远山近林，情感共鸣｜Distant mountains and neighboring woods
An emotional revoking environment
The reception lobby on the first floor is an expansive yet vertically contracted space, compressing its visual volume and physical perception. Few steps downwards to the right, a sunken lounge area is located, equipped with continuous horizontal windows allowing a relatively expensive view. Lower level vegetation’s lush leaves and branches create a half opaque screen with shapes of mountains looming in the distance. The breakfast room with a wet bar, which has an ever-changing natural background formed by mottled shadows of bamboos, is located further into the left.
▼横向延展的接待大厅空间 The horizontally stretched reception lobby area
▼土砖墙与空间中高差台地关系 Adobe wall and height difference relationship of tableland within the space
▼横向连续的长条玻璃窗将树林引入室内空间 Landscape view of woods introduced into the interior by the continuous horizontal window
▼树林的光影投到休闲空间中 Mottled shades of trees projected into the lounge area
▼早餐厅对应的水吧和竹林 The wet bar and the bamboo copse corresponding to the breakfast room
Through the reception hall and bamboo fenced corridor, two guest rooms were placed. The guest room at the northeast side has a capacious sight, covering views from close by farm fields to mountains in the distance. Colors and crops of farmland change throughout seasons, giving an ever-changing stay experience across the year. The interior has a simple design, with the space layout focused on views from two directions: the bed is directed towards distant mountains at north; he tea nook, on the other hand, is directed towards farmlands at east. An L-shaped balcony is placed outdoor. The spacious semi-opened-up lavatory equips separate dry and wet areas; the bathtub is placed beside the glass windows to create a bathing experience more closed up to nature.
▼细密格栅界面的连廊通道 Corridor path with fine grid texture
▼客房大床朝向北侧的山景 The mountain view at north aimed by queen size bed
▼东侧的喝茶空间朝向开阔的田野 The eastside tea nook aiming at expansive farm field
▼浴缸放置在客房东侧窗边 Guest room with the bathtub placed beside the east side window
▼客房自由开放的卫生间 Semi opened-up lavatory
▼客房户型图 Guest room
The second-floor guest room gives a pleasant surprise through great family suite experiences. The vertical space is divided into two levels, with an in-room staircase connecting each other. The interior floor is covered with a variety of materials with high differences due to different area usages. With one double bed placed on the lower floor and two beds each placed on the north and the south side of the upper floor, the family suite could sufficiently accommodate the stay of a whole family. Building’s wooden roof structure is exposed to the suite’s loft; a narrow landscape window opened on the north side of the loft introduces a scroll view of distant mountains.
▼轻盈通透的钢结构楼梯空间 Light and translucent steel structure staircase
▼有内部悬挑楼梯的亲子客房 Family suite with in-room overhanging staircase
▼丰富高差体验的客房空间，真火壁炉增加民宿的温度 A guest room space with various height differences, with an open fire fireplace adding the warmth of the room
▼设置局部通高空间的亲子客房 Family suite with a double-height section
▼木结构裸露的亲子夹层空间，设计压低了夹层的空间高度 Loft space with exposed wood structure, the design compressed the vertical volume of the loft
▼横向看山的框景，空调设计藏入墙体壁龛 Landscape view of distant mountains, air conditioning devices are concealed within the niche
▼客房轴测图Axonometric drawing of guest room
The top floor is a grand suite with expansive horizontal space. After entering through the porch, the residents will be embraced with a distant continuous mountain view, forming a layered view together with several popped-up tree branches close by. Resting on the balcony with a gentle breeze and a pot of tea, visitors will enjoy a tranquil experience with the view of mountains. The suite’s layout is divided into two sections by the bathtub and the interior patio. The first section accommodates sleeping and tea drinking, while the second section serves as a leisure space with a wet bar. The uninterrupted flow of space and exposed wood roof structure makes the relationship between the structure and space conspicuous to the observer. Early in the morning, with birds twittering, visitors can experience the refreshment simply by opening up the curtain.
▼透过木结构和天井看到整个通透的大套房空间 Overlooking the whole space of grand suite through wood structure and interior patio
▼天井结合冲澡、庭院、壁炉与浴缸入口玄关设置在中间轴线上 The patio, the shower room, the yard, the fireplace, and the porch entrance all placed on the central axis
▼相对独立的套房休闲空间 The grand suite’s semi-independent leisure space
▼大套房横向延展的空间布局 The horizontally stretched space do the grand suite
结构体系和在地化材料建造｜Structural system and utilization of locally sourced materials
We hope the material selection of the residence’s facade to inherit a sense of locality, to support the relationship between construction and nature, and to utilize locally sourced materials and local craftsman that lowers not only construction expanses but also reduces logistical costs. Materials like rubbles, mud bricks, washed granolithic, terrazzo, gray bricks, and little blue tiles are all commonly used by locals; they are easy to source, craft, and make the construction accuracy easily manageable.
▼当地传统建筑用材 Local traditional building materials
▼建筑上的毛石垒砌墙面 Rubble masoned wall on the building
▼东立面现浇混凝土，实木，青砖交接细节 Eastside facade with details of cast-in-place cement, wood, and gray brick fusing together
▼南立面毛石、青砖、竹格栅、实木窗框材料关系 Southside facade and relationships between materials including rough rubbles, gray bricks, bamboo fences, and wooden window frame
▼现场建造场景 site construction scene
In terms of structural design, we hope the structure is expressive, serve as an integral part of the building’s space and wall system, and be sensed directly. Using the wooden mold cast-in-place concrete structure, the framework serves as the shear force structure while becoming surfaces of interior and exterior walls, with textured wooden finishes and concrete casted finishes that feel pure and welcoming to touch. The wooden mold cast-in-place concrete structure creates a column-free large-bay structure, allowing interior spacing without constraints. Wood structure, being widely utilized by local houses, is used at the upper section of the residence, interdigitating with the shear force structure. Wooden structural beams are exposed within interior spaces without any other decorative surface, as the wooden structure itself serves as the interior surface material. All electric wiring is concealed within the thermal insulation located at the roof to integrate the building structure and the interior design optimally.
▼结构拆解图 Structural decomposition
▼架空的室外空间，混凝土现浇裸露 Overhead external space with exposed cast-in-place concrete
▼东侧现浇出挑的体量和阳台 Eastside cast-in-place overhanging volume and balcony
▼顶层木结构裸露的走廊空间 Corridor space with the exposed wooden top structure
▼屋顶木结构裸露的客房 Guest room with an exposed wooden roof structure
We are always perplexed by concerns like, “how to resolve the inherent contradiction between traditional construction and modern design”; or “how to form space with materials seemingly fragmented?” Our answer is the importance of accuracy control. Accuracy is not equivalent to delicateness, as accuracy can be perceived as a sensation, an inherent logic of control. Accuracy as a concept can be delivered through language and enhanced through training. However, it may not be fully expressed through construction drawings. Accuracy can be seen as an abstract concept. During construction processes, the feeling and understanding of accuracy should be seen with a high priority; as an example, I will inform stone stacking craftsman that: “during the stone stacking process, make sure always to expose unprocessed sides of stone chunks, no filling up gaps with cement, the cement mortar retreats three centimeters into the rubble wall, maintain the bottom heavy shape of the stone wall, intersperse large and small stones during the stacking, no need to choose the color, use hook to tie with the inner wall for evert 1.5 meter square of area, and stones used for constructing landscape wall should be larger than 1/3 the size of stones used for structural wall construction.” If the construction workers could fulfill those requirements mentioned, they would have successfully met the accuracy requirement.
▼北立面墙身详图 Details of the north wall
▼建筑南面的白天场景 Daylight view of the south side facade
▼建筑南侧阶梯水洗石、毛石墙、竹格栅关系 Relationships between washed granolithic stairs, rubble wall, and bamboo fences at the south side of the residence
▼傍晚南侧立面建筑的虚实关系 Relationship between vagueness and vividness of the south side facade at dusk
一体化设计的实现｜Actualization of an integrated design
This project is a comprehensive experiment of an integrated end to end design, consisting of project positioning and planning, site planning, architecture design, interior design, decorative design, landscape design, lighting design, structural design, piping and electric system design, smart furniture integration, visual guide system design. It is a project that requires cross-professional, cross-system, and end-to-end integrated design. With such a level of vertical integration, the coherence between the exterior design and the interior design, the unity of building structure and decorative designs, the continuity of the building design and the landscape design, and the conformity of structure and construction materials can all be guaranteed. Different fields of the project were being coordinated swiftly during the practice, hence reduced possible conflicts and clashes between different types of works during the construction, abled interior and landscape construction to have a smooth transition, significantly saved the construction cost, and shortened the overall construction periods. Meanwhile, the integrated design process also ensures consistent design language and material usage throughout every aspect of the project, making sure the natural transition from interior space to outdoor space creates a coherent and immersive environmental experience.
▼上山时透过树林看民宿 Seeing the residence through woods while entering the village
▼民宿主入口夜晚场景 The main entrance of the residence at night
▼大堂休闲空间 Lounge area in the reception lobby
▼客房入户廊道 Corridor connecting the guest room area
The integrated end-to-end design will be the main focus of our future practices; it is also a trending demand for mid-to-small-sized projects in the future, and the most desirable option for estate owners. While the integrated design can meet design requests in all domains, it can also demise the toil of estate owners searching and arranging different design and construction teams all by themselves, maximally reducing all potential conflicts and ultimately shortening construction periods with significantly lowering construction expenses.
▼大套房室内场景 Grand suite
▼客房室内局部软装效果 Decoration design detail
▼手工模型 Manual model
▼平面图 site plan
▼南北向剖面图 section plan
Project Name: Ma’er Shan Village, Zhangjiajie, Woodsy Whispers Residence
Project Location: Ma’er Shan Village, Zhangjiajie, Hu’nan Province
Project Owner: Zhangjiajie Beautiful Village Tourism Development Co., Ltd.
Project Type: Resort villa
Design Period: Feb. 2019 – June 2019
Construction Period: Aug. 2019 – Aug. 2020
Design Agency: Shulin Architectural Design
Leading Architect: Lin Chen
Architectural design: Dongying Liu, Weiquan Shi, Song Chen
Interior Design: Dongying Liu, Weiquan Shi, Yini Chen
Decoration Design: Yini Chen, Weiquan Shi, Yiwei Zhao
Branding Design: HUGO-IDEA
Structural Design: Xiang Gao
Vegetation Design: Chen Lu
Furniture: Che’fang Furnitures
Structure Type: Frame-shear concrete / Steel-wood structure
Design Fields: Planning, architecture, interior, decoration, landscape, branding, end to end
Construction Materials: Wooden mold concrete, African teak, rubble wall, gray brick,
adobe, small blue tile, terrazzo, washed stone, synthetic bamboo
Construction Area: 1200㎡
Photography: Yilong Zhao, Ang Wu
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