- Architects: 1406 STUDIO, Institute of Shanghai Architectural Design and Research
- Location: Bei Tai Hu Da Dao, Huqiu Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China
- Lead Architects: Yue Shen
- Design Team: Zhe Gao, Jing Du, Ye Wang
- Area: 607.93 m2
- Project Year: 2016
- Photographs: Kun Zhang, Yue Shen, Bo Gao
- Structural Engineer: Shichang Zhang, Feng Gao
- Landscape Designer: Jun Liu
- Interior Design: Yi Zhang
- Planning Consultant: Rui Peng, Ting Wen
- Client: C- SWED
Located at Xijing Bay, Western Suzhou and near Taihu Lake, the restaurant boasts of a picturesque natural landscape. As a supporting facility aimed at serving cultural activities and tourism at Xijing Bay scenic spot, the project is sited at the obsolete land of Shangshan Village.
The site, 30 kilometers west of the ancient city of Suzhou, takes the North Taihu Avenue as its entrance, and the Shangshan Village, across which crops are scattered, is reached after two consecutive road turns. It blends the bustling city area and the tranquil rural land in a dramatic fashion.
The site field is sloping with an original village building in it, forming a contour that newly-constructed buildings cannot break through. Located at the waist of the hill, the area where new buildings are built is over twenty meters away from the village road. The elevation difference between the area and the road, and the top of the hill is three meters and five meters respectively, while that between the east side and the west side of the area is one meter. The field is a complex slope with considerable depth.
The tilted cedar growing upwards in the site have survived over hundred years and its struggle for living space against the original building even make the site an intriguing place for narrative.
The Shangshan Village, the slope and the unique cedar alongside Taihu Lake all contribute to the building of a scenic pastoral restaurant.
The Pastoral Architecture
Divided by the designer into different heights, the slope between the village road and the building is transformed into several vegetable plots, separated by winding stone trails, which in turn connect the spatial elements.
The building is open and transparent, because it is formed by composite cottage made up of vertical wooden grille and glass, which allows it to be both sunlight-free and energy-saving. The different angle each group of the wood gratings has controls the vision inside the cottage. To get a better view of the Taihu Lake, guests can come to the outdoor space on the rooftop terrace.
In outdoor space, guests can directly experience the pastoral atmosphere. It extends the boundaries of the building and accommodates more guests without being limited by the building. The outdoor venues with different styles created by the designer allow guests to fully enjoy the pastoral pleasure. Guests dine with the smell of the earth in the wood grating area.
The overhead indoor area in the first layer guarantees a perfect view of the beautiful surrounding landscape. The small courtyard under the retaining wall on the north side provides an outdoor private communication space. From the corridor on the second floor beneath the cedar branches, guests have an overlooked view of the entire vegetable pods.
The Taihu Lake and the Shangshan Village can be viewed from the open terraces and rooftop terraces. The design blends and extends the boundaries of the building with the various elements of the site, easily meeting the requirements of various guests.
The Blurred Lines
The architect’s tactics to overcome the limits of small-scale architecture hinges on the supreme management of the interior space and the breaking-through of the boundaries of layers, because it allows guests to move up and down freely, and magnifies the mobility of the space.
Taking the advantage of the elevation difference between the east and the west, the design places the stairs in it like a seesaw, breaking the conventional logic of the semi-platform and naturally eliminating the existence of the layers by making the most of the elevation difference between the ends of the stairs. The design replaces the floors with the dining area, therefore extending the building space upwards.
The narrative of the cedar and architecture reflects the designer’s thinking on the building.
The building and the cedar have had two intimate interactions: first, the close contact between the bottom of the tree canopy and the second layer where the outer corridor lies with a slope the same as that of the cedar; second, the direct dialogue between the canopy and the third layer where the chalet linked to the stairs is rotated.
The close relationship between the building and the cedar makes them dear friends for many years. Their relationship is intimate yet not offensive, like reaching between them a solid balance of their uneven force.