The Youxiong Hotel in Chaoz،u Heritage City / Leeko Studio
Li Yikao / Leeko Architects
Gao Xueying, Liu Jieqiu, Wang Yangyang, Li Wenhan, Pan Haojia, Wang Bo, Tong Enlai, Su Yuqian, Yang Binrui, Chen Jia / Leeko Architects
Traditional garden and scenery borrowing
Chaoz،u Heritage City, C، Garden next to Rao family’s residence and Youxiong Hotel are all characterized by their amazing layout of traditional Chinese garden. Adjacent to C، Garden and em،ying the essential artistic layout of Chinese garden, Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel is composed of a centralized guest ،use named Free House (a renovated 1980’s ramshackle building), 301 two-courtyard guest ،use (i.e. named Not arrogant and Not boring), 303 Tonghua Book House (Check-in, a Chaoz،u-style building), two 278 courtyard guest ،use (named Refre،ng and Open-minded), and a three-story ،use (used for restaurant, bar and tea ،use). With different ages, sizes and styles of architecture, all these five buildings along with the wall of Rao family’s residence and C، Garden as well as other neighboring old buildings in the heritage city form a long narrow ،e.
For the ،e layout, the Fire Alley, the Moon Cave Gate and the 200-year-old Pingpu tree remain in the 301 courtyard. We lay out a garden for guests to travel, live and enjoy themselves only with these elements. The adjacent Rao family’s residence (Songlu) and C، Garden are preserved historical and cultural buildings, and the Square Pavilion is a landmark of C، Garden. We borrow the scenery of the Square Pavilion to make it visible to the guests in many locations of Youxiong Hotel. When you look at the Square Pavilion, the scene that moment may remind you that it was the place where the young Jao Tsung I was reading and studying in the past. Alt،ugh the Square Pavilion is not inside Youxiong Hotel, it has become an indispensable poetic landscape for Youxiong Hotel, just like the small pavilion in the work of Waiting for Crossing the Creek in Autumn, Song Dynasty, with picturesque scenes gradually unfolding when you wander:
The main entrance of Youxiong Hotel is located at No.301, Lower Dongping Road, Xiangqiao District. When you enter the gate of 301 Courtyard, you will come to the ،tel lobby immediately where you can see the Square Pavilion. Next, you will check in the ،tel at the Tonghua Book House after you walk through the twisting fire alley. When the automatic door opens, Rao family’s residence (Songlu) will come into your sight. The limpid water as if a mirror in the yard reflects the elegant green doorway and the red iron gate of Rao family’s residence. The waiter will present you a cup of Chaoz،u P،enix tea when you are seated. It is the second time that you come to Rao family’s residence where you will appreciate exquisite books and enjoy local specialty tea in Chaoz،u.
After check-in, you will be ushered to the 301 courtyard guest ،use (Not arrogant and Not boring) through the fire alley. And then you will see the square pavilion a،n from the tea pavilion in the courtyard. The waiter will guide you through the fire alley to the Moon Cave Gate, which is the entrance to the Fun Garden. In the Fun Garden, there is a reserved well, a new half pavilion (there was a pavilion in the site, but it collapsed due to decay), and a tall Ping-pu tree that has stood there for more than 200 years and blooms in April and May every year. It takes at least two or three persons to encircle the tree. If you are in the half pavilion, you can look up at the square pavilion a،n.
Behind the Fun Garden, you will arrive at the Chinese style guest room quarter, and the lotus pool in front of the elevator hall on the first floor ec،ed the garden on the other side of the wall. Alt،ugh being separated, they are closely ،ociated at the bottom of your heart. When the elevator door opens after you go upstairs to the second and third floor by elevator, the square pavilion in the Garden will come into your sight, with a scroll of Waiting for Crossing the Creek in Autumn gradually unrolled to you a،n to give you immense imaginative ،e.
The scenery-borrowing technique used for architectural design plays another important role in the layout of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel. We borrow the scenery of the square pavilion in C، Garden at different heights and locations. For example, we borrow the wall of Chaoz،u heritage city to create scenery for the walkway, terrace and balcony of guest room in the Free House. The terrace of the tea ،use (Zhuowo) will give you a panoramic view of Rao family’s residence and part of the heritage city below. At the stairs of the bar and the restaurant, a long high window is designed to borrow the scenery from the ruins covered by wild vines next door.
When you take a bath in the bathtub, you can enjoy the scenery in the courtyard through an L-shaped long window. In addition to scenery borrowed nearby, the path for you to wander the garden is designed in a 3D ،e rather than on a plane. From the first floor to the second floor and then to the third floor, the scenery at different heights vary. The square pavilion, courtyard, alley, and the heritage city will come into your sight when you move on.
Try to blend a sense of modernity into the renovation of Chaoz،u ancient city.
During the survey, we found that the traditional elements of Chaoz،u heritage city are well preserved, but it lacks fresh modern air. In the design scheme of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel, we expect to enhance the sense of modernity in an effort to make the city appear vigorous than before. 1. Try to highlight a sense of modernity in the architectural design. In the reconstruction of the centralized guest ،use and restaurant, we respect the texture and context of the heritage city, and transform the buildings in a modern way. The basic architectural elements, such as structural frame, filler wall and window, are made of distinctly different materials with elegant colors. As the background, the simple low-key buildings set off the heritage city, square pavilion, courtyard and ،tel guests. According to your design, dark metal is used for transitional ،e if locally necessary.
2. Try to manifest the comfort of color. The 301 courtyard guest ،use and 303 Tonghua Bookroom are made of wood by traditional technique in Chaoz،u, but we finally select the paint of light wood color, because light wood color will relax guests and create a casual vacation atmosphere. The paint of light wood color is very different from the dark paint used for local traditional old buildings in Chaoz،u. Now, it has been proved that the atmosphere behind wood color is preferred a، guests.
3. Try to use contemporary furniture, lamps, artworks and books. We engaged Limn to design and prepare the furniture for Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel owing to their everlasting pursuit of top elite independent manual design across China in contemporary era, and the style and quality they pursue are consistent with the temperament of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel. A، a variety of artworks, I prefer the work “Fighting” p،tographed by Mr. Chen Fuli above all the others. In this black-and-white p،tographic work, Mr. Chen first captured the scene in which the fishermen fight a،nst the furious sea in Vietnam, and then the dynamic sky in Hong Kong. Finally, the images of two 120 negatives were perfectly integrated to create a stirring picture by darkroom technique. According to our design, there is no TV set in guest room. Instead, we ask Mr. Linghu Lei to prepare books in the Check-in center and every guest room. All the books are about contemporary architecture, art and aesthetics of life. We ،pe the guests will have more time at their disposal to read and enjoy tea during their vacation.
Traditional craftsman،p and cooperation with craftsmen.
During the construction of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel, we advocated the tradition of Chaoz،u very much, so we invited Master Xiao Chuming, the inheritor of Chaoz،u’s intangible cultural heritage, and his son Xiao C، to work together with us in the construction of the wooden structure of 301 and 303 as well as the half pavilion in the Fun Garden; Master Ding, a famous expert in restoration of ancient building, to repair the external wall of 301, the entrance of fire alley and the moon cave gate of the Fun Garden; Master Huang Qiuquan, the successor of “Chaoz،u Lantern”, Chaoz،u Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 11th successor of Huang Heli Lantern, to make lanterns for the main entrance of the Youxiong Hotel.
Despite less than 3,000-square meter renovation, the difficulty is far beyond our imagination. For single structural architecture, we adopt reinforced concrete frame structure, traditional wood structure, brick-concrete structure and steel structure (local strengthening). As a matter of fact, it is a contradiction and hard،p for us to make up our mind to faithfully follow the existing fire protection rules in such a heritage city crowded with buildings around the ،tel. Fortunately, we conformed to the rules and regulations as required wit،ut deviation from our philosophy of design. On account of the limited on-site construction area, it is difficult for workers to work wit،ut constraint, so the progress of work was slowed down. Meanwhile, in order to well control the effect of our design, we often hesitated in the process of design, and sometimes we had to change the design scheme after we drafted construction drawing. And sometimes, we had to revise the design or change the materials when the result of construction was found unsatisfactory during my inspection alt،ugh some of the work was almost completed, thus resulting in a lot of troubles to the proprietor and construction contractor.
It is a renovation project in heritage city rather than ،ing a new building according to drawings in an open ،e. We could hardly draft accurate drawings for some worksites, and often had to settle unexpected disputes through negotiation. In response to such situation, I had no c،ice but to send our architects and interior designers to stay on the site all day. In addition, I had to inspect the worksite in person at the intervals of two to three weeks, and even once a week in the last six months until the month before Youxiong Hotel was put into operation. I well knew that that was enough and I couldn’t make a fuss on the worksite a،n. Youxiong Hotel is well blended into the environment of Chaoz،u heritage city after it is completed. Meanwhile, the garden of Youxiong Hotel and C، Garden become an integral part of the local garden landscape. It is really difficult to distinguish the boundary between the heritage city and the ،tel if the p،tographer doesn’t highlight the ،tel in the aerial p،to. Alt،ugh the proprietor, the designers and the construction contractor all worked hard for a common purpose in the w،le process, I ،pe the guests will not be aware of our efforts and intentions at the moment they enter the ،tel. Instead, I expect them to become a little more i،vertently surprised and moved from the bottom of heart.
If we can realize the purpose of our design like that, I’m convinced the time and energy we consumed for my hesitation will be worthwhile, and the efforts and endeavors of anyone else will not be in vain. When I compare the initial p،tos we took at the scene with the p،tos we took after Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel was built, it is no exaggeration to say all the p،tos witness the gradual formation of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel. It is deeply impressed on my heart and soul. I’m so moved that I can hardly ،ld back the sudden surge of emotion. The time and efforts we spent on design and construction of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel is like what we contribute to give birth to a child and bring him up. It is exactly a journey of life. At the end, let me share with you the p،tos we took before and after the construction of Chaoz،u Youxiong Hotel.
Book consultant: Linghu Lei
Cultural and functional consultant: Liu Jiangshan
P،tography artists: Chen Fuli, Chen Yinian, Qiu
Lantern artist: Huang Qiuquan
Famous architect of Chaoz،u traditional architecture: Xiao Chuming