Wuyuan Skywells Hotel, Xian

Designed by: anySCALE Architecture Design
For client: Wuyuan Skywells Floor area: 1385.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: Hotel of the Year

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About the Project

The Skywells project mainly comprised of an extensive renovation of a 300-year-old Huizhou-style property deep in East China’s Jiangxi province. The hotel is named after the English translation of ‘Tian Jing’ – a type of narrow courtyard within a building that lets daylight into the surrounding rooms. The mansion’s idyllic location and rich history as a witness to some of the most tumultuous periods in China’s history make for a unique history. Having once served as an inn for merchants traversing through the region, the building had suffered much neglect for most of the 20th century and was also a haven for Chinese soldiers fighting the Japanese invasion of the mainland.
The aim of the project was to respect and honor the local architectural features and restore in a manner where current and future generations could understand and appreciate traditional design. This necessitated the sacrifice of design styles that may seem appealing to the reigning aesthetic but would destroy the essence of the Qing-era property.
Excluding absolutely necessary modifications, new construction of any kind within the new building was kept to a minimum, with the team foregoing even the idea of painting over the public-area walls covered with decades-old calligraphy from wartimes and the only main construction being the new multipurpose wing tucked away in a corner of the estate.

What’s unique about it

The delicate restoration and introduction of modern facilities turn the building into a suitable hospitality venue without any flashiness or ostentatious finishes. Austere yet luxurious, rivetingly complex yet so blissfully zen, the original wood and stone features of the building combined with the historical preservation of various eras make the Wuyuan Skywells a restoration project unlike any other.
An example - the timber frame, a highlight of the building in communal areas like the skywells, features highly ornate carvings. Having been destroyed by the elements over the years, it was restored with much care by seeking out the help of Yuzong, a talented local artisan. Owing to the original design, the rooms and suites were not abundant in natural lighting. An easy solution would have been to introduce windows, yet this required making fundamental changes that would pollute the design of the building itself. Hence, the decision was made to fit the rooms with high-quality lighting and introduce latticed wood panels on the walls facing the skywells. The project also emphasized renovation using the original materials – brick and clay – traditionally employed in ancient China to keep buildings cool during hot summers. Additionally, keeping an eye on sustainability and eco-friendly use, the waste water management system and thermal insulation of the building were designed to be above regional standards.

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Contrast of preserved heritage and new design at the restaurant.

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Lounge and hotel reception.

Location of project:
anySCALE Architecture Design

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