A collection of hotel cottages built alongside terraced farmland at the foot of a small mountain in China’s Yuwancun, Ankang City drew on the local vernacular for its design. Named Ningshan LuZhai Cottages, Japanese studio Kooo Architects designed the hotel as such so it blends seamlessly with the rural landscape. 

The structure spans across a narrow L-shaped footprint with eight rooms connected across two stories that overlook the rice paddies out front. The upper-level rooms were setup around private “garden-like” entrances situated in a gap between each structure. Breaking down the upper-level form of the hotel allows the studio to harmonize the design with the scale of the neighboring houses.

“The architectural plan and layout of the first and second floors were influenced by the panoramic fields at the foot of the mountain and along the river, and we wanted guests to be able to experience the landscape from their rooms as much as possible” the studio explained adding, “Although it is a single two-story building, this design was intended to make the building look like a single-story villa built on a base of Nomen-Izumi (retaining) walls.” 

The studio used traditional construction and material methods in building Ningshan LuZhai Cottages. They used locally available materials and long-used methods in the area to avoid disturbing the landscape visually and allow the structure to blend with its surroundings and neighboring village.

External finishes include white lime and ash tiles and most of the retaining walls were made using “Nomen-Izumi,” a technique of stacking natural stones to create walls. Meanwhile, the studio also “incorporated wooden roofs with log rafters, beams and “Dougong,” a structural element of interlocking wooden brackets in China.”

Kooo Architects focused on using locally sourced materials for the construction of the Ningshan LuZhai Cottages, including the stone used for the external walls so the hotel blends in with the surrounding landscape. 

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Images courtesy of Keishin Horikoshi