The “Ruins Cave Garden” is a newly-completed project by ArCONNECT Architects beneath the mountainous landscape of China’s Yunnan Province. It offers an immersive nature experience set against the backdrop of a ruined landscape, cave, and garden and incorporates ArCONNECT’s new studio and café to a structure that once served as a stone ruin in the ancient village of Dali.

The new contemporary architecture studio sits on a plot that once hosted a well-preserved 1980s stone-wood house and a 1990s brick-concrete structure. The team worked in phases with the renovation of the stone house and the north building to come up with a warm and inviting structure that hosts a kitchen, private workspaces, a library, and public meeting rooms.

The stone house was redesigned in connection with the nearby Cangshan Mountain and entailed the creation of a T-shaped opening on the west area to invite natural light and comfortable ambience. Views of the mountain and terraced fields come framed in vertical and ribbon windows. The “Ruins Cave Garden” also pays homage to the skilled stone craftsmen of Dali by leaving the stones beneath the straw mortar exposed.

As for the interior, it features a double-height reading are that has a skylight and mountain views and a corner staircase that leads to the second floor private meeting spaces. In contrast, the interior of the north building transformed from a private structure to an open, light-filled space on the second floor, which has a rooftop space that offers panoramic views of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Sea. 

The second phase of the renovation involves creating a garden to unify the site by extending and transforming the ruins into a layered rocky hill decked with plants. Then a deep pool and a central courtyard well were added and the garden culminates with the “Ruins Garden Café” which uses ultra-thin steel roof supported by steel plates and columns. 

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Images courtesy of arCONNECT Architects