Hylla Cloud Nature Experience Center, also known as the “Red House”, is located on the gentle slope of Yanjiao Village, Baisha Town, Lijiang, Yunnan Province. It is a natural living scene experience place in Hylla Land. On one side, it looks up at the snow-capped mountains and glaciers, on another side; it overlooks the village and countryside. Except for one side of the countryside, the other three sides are closely surrounded by the complete canopy line extending from Mount Zhishan. In front of the project, there are lawns, water pools, and trees, high and low, successively arranged; behind the house is a natural canal, across the water from the main building of the hotel. In this specific site, the architect uses his own unique interpretation of the “local”, not restricted to the existing experience and the public label, which have caused a “casual” building to break through the ground.
“Cloud” like free structure. Vacation is to find the time for relaxation, and Yunnan itself is in an ideal state of relaxation. From the architect’s observation, Yunnan’s traditional buildings are built with great freedom: the old craftsmen had no specific design or strict planning. They might suddenly pile a stone mill into the wall, and they didn’t care whether the edges and surfaces were properly handled…It’s all about randomness, imagination, and carelessness. In this context, the architect felt that the project should also be treated a little more relaxed.
The weather in Lijiang is always sunny, and the shadow under the clouds will always become a natural shading field for people. And the cloud, naturally, represents this relaxed, unfettered state. Instead, the design team used a “cloud” as the roof of the building, allowing it to wander naturally and find its own boundary: when you come across trees scattered on the site, step back a little, and when there is a gap, stretch in more. It naturally expands and stretches, forming the plane form of the building from the overlooking perspective.
The shadow cast by the “clouds” is naturally the space of the building. Inspired by Kaareklint’s 1933 design for the structure of the outdoor chairs in Safari, the architects allowed the building’s supporting structure to adjust to the ups and downs of the terrain. The length of each side is neither fixed nor consistent and varies according to site conditions. It looks like a huge tent lying on the grass. This structure also responds to the client’s functional orientation of the building. The site is surrounded by a combination of flat grassland, natural water, and woodland, making it a great place for camping in its natural state. A tent-shaped camp building comes with an outdoor sense.
Use of natural materials. In addition to being structurally comfortable, the architecture materials of the Cloud Nature Experience Center also seem to be “handy”.The floor and walls are integrated, all made of the same kind of local stone from Lijiang. There is no redundant decoration for the interior and exterior of the building and it has honestly exposed the original color and texture of the stone. The stones, produced only in the local village of Guifeng, have a very distinctive flamingo-like pink color. Due to the extensive use of this stone material, the whole building forms a strong color contrast with the wild Yunnan environment and the rustic charm of the site. The casual name “Red House” has been thus derived from word of mouth among the workers.
For the architects, the construction of this building is like cooking molecular cuisine: take local materials and make something that is not local. In the end, the architect has used simple materials and uncomplicated methods to make it a modern building that conforms to the local spirit, interacts with nature, and has a sense of design and feel.
Encourage an open experience. In addition to being eclectic in appearance, another difference between the “red house” and traditional buildings is that there are no preset rules for its use. From the architect’s point of view, the building should not be proud to decide what the user should do in the building. “How to Experience” is an open text and the architect offers only possibilities.
First of all, the boundary between the building and nature is blurred, and users can freely choose the way they touch and feel nature. However, the architects believe that “locality” needs to be respected and the “stranger” identity of the experiencers should also be respected. For strangers, seeing snow-capped mountains is an important experience to gain a sense of difference. The Red House was designed with a better view of the mountains in mind. Spreading the fun of the trip is also an important part of the overall vacation experience. So “how can I photograph the mountains better?” is also very important.A unique place to see the mountains is indispensable from the unique “fancy” view angles of the mountain and a variety of free mountain viewing poses.
In terms of internal function differentiation, Cloud Nature Experience Center has not made more space restrictions in addition to the necessary separation of rest and activity area, bath area, and storage room. The lounge area is an open space, is it a cafe, a bar, a retail center, or a sharing venue? How will you use it, it all depends on your needs. And the experiencer of the space can also choose to stay in the way they feel comfortable. With chairs, steps, and roofs, you may sit or lie, or stand or idle about, follow your inclinations and respect the user’s subjectivity adequately. The bathing space for camping is made of translucent glass tiles. Outside, you can see the blurry shapes of people in the bathroom, a bit like an airplane passing through a cloud. The bathroom environment and the shower system will simulate the effects of rainstorms in nature. There is no doubt that this is an experience full of uncertainty, and the designer is on the “unbridled” verge.
Conclusion. Throughout the design and construction process, the architects did not rigidly seek and imitate the similarity of Yunnan’s local architectural forms. Instead, he made a building that looks nothing like the local architecture, but speaks directly to the inner spirit of the local architecture-natural and comfortable and relax as you please. Returning to the question of “how can we create a relaxing experience for visitors”, the builders themselves relax first and wonder if it is also a path.