German-Chinese architecture practice Büro Ziyu Zhuang leaves plenty to the imagination with its structural design of the Longquan Mountain Observatory. The massive building, which overlooks the city of Chengdu from the top of Longquan Mountain, boasts sweeping roofs to mimic the slopes of the surrounding mountain.  

The 4,200 square-meter building made from GRC concrete panels boasts such a strong character with its undulating forms that are connected at various heights. It resembles a “spaceship or alien form” ready to launch when viewed from certain angles.  At the same time, according to Büro Ziyu Zhuang, it is “subdued enough that it does not threaten or contradict the existing natural environment, like a fold in the ground or a flying bridge in the forest, hidden from view.”

The Longquan Mountain Observatory was designed in harmony with its natural landscape, with its expansive scale made to create the impression that it’s part of the rising surface of the mountain. Its fluid form was informed by the Eastern philosophical concept of mountains that constantly shift. The studio explained that “from an Eastern viewpoint, the permanence of mountains is substituted by fluidity, like water and clouds, through billions of years of change in space and time.” 

The sweeping roofs also serve as a viewing platform for guests and they are supported by a series of concrete pillars, underneath which hosts a restaurant, a teahouse, and an infinity pool. Other supporting functions including the logistic areas are hidden below the site. The entrance is placed at the center where the roof starts two divided into two with the pool sitting on the right side, where it offers breathtaking reflections of the open sky and the surrounding natural topography.

The two-story restaurant is on the left from which the roof extends farther to the mountain with a suspending dining and viewing area at the top floor. The Longquan Mountain Observatory also has a courtyard opening accessible from the entrance, where visitors can walk into a forest via a garden pool paved with stepping stones. 

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Images courtesy of Büro Ziyu Zhuang