Nankun’s secret art restaurant as the name suggests is hidden amidst the Nankun Mountain National Forest Park, Huizhou, China but what puts this restaurant on the map is its one-of-a-kind cave-like roof. Designed by Wildurban Architects, the construction of the restaurant was completed in the year 2020. Situated 800m above sea level in the Nankun Mountain National Forest Park, the restaurant sprawls over 353 sq.m of area. The inspiration behind the cave-like roof was to provide a design that imbibed the memories of the past yet had the adaptability to face the future.
To balance the relationship between architecture and nature, five brick-wood holiday villas with low-density layout structures were created in the 90s. Referring to the original gable roof structure of the old building as the prototype, Wildurban Architects designed the new roof structure. Three exterior walls withholding the roof are used as the primary parts of the design with the gabled roofs set in these structures, moving along three directions facing the
lake, forest, and road, were connected in the middle portion that resulted in a flowy and curvy cave-like roof structure. This roof structure enhanced the scenic beauty that can be viewed from the inside and allowing nature to be introduced into the internal space.
The wavy roofing by Wildurban Architects acts like covering to the flowy space that resembles a cave and provides stability to the building in a challenging environment. The intent behind the design is to emphasize the connection between nature and architecture. The revival of the roof has transformed the resulting experience in terms of spatial perspective. Both the internal and external structures got constructed simultaneously ensuring a balanced topological evolution.
The newly designed roofing makes the internal structure look like a single whole cavity that is unhindered and versatile. Further, it also helps the design play with its height differences creating interesting spaces and corners. Even the interiors of the building have a very flowy layout, other than a few elements that offer support and stability, which portrays a very organic form in terms of the design approach.
There are two levels to the building, along with an underground area shown in the section, a skylight present in the roof brings in ample natural light to the top level that goes well with the grey artistic texture paint on the walls provoking a cave-like feel inside as well.
To sustain the feel, titanium zinc tiles have been utilized that bring a unifying feeling to the whole space and augments the cave-like experience. The material choices seem to be simple and rustic in their look and feel, boosting the over-all spatial experience. The multi-directional trait of the roof provides a continuous space enabling multi-use of it for various purposes.
Otherwise, an all-grey monotonous interior is broken by a stunning red spiral staircase, which acts as a factor of emphasis that connects the upper and lower level. The building makes the best use of its environment by utilizing the scenic views spreading around it in multiple directions.
The lighting fixtures seem to be a mix of plush recessed ceiling fixtures, cove lighting for the ambiance, and track lights for accent purposes. The tone of the light appears to be a warm yellow tint that enhances the textured grey paint. They have also tried to incorporate natural elements like light water ripples and utilize glass windows to break the visual barrier between nature and architecture to provide a rustic yet modern approach to the building.
The idea was to make the building more of a public space than just a restaurant hence the roof design by Wildurban Architects allows the building to be multi-purpose and versatile in its spatial distinctions. Therefore, it can host a variety of activities like an art exhibition, brand launch, catering, and gatherings. There are no fixed spaces or furniture so it keeps evolving, catering to the need at that particular time, and hence it has become more than just a restaurant.
Being the first of its kind, this roof design by the Wildurban architects emphasizes an essential relationship the architecture needs to maintain with its surrounding landscape. Taking cues from the past and implementing it in the present to create a future-ready building is an ideal way to design in modern times.
The cave-like roof design by the Wildurban Architects is an architectural wonder, whose geometry and construction will serve as a prototype and case study for many other projects that will arrive in the future. A good design is the one that shows the right way forward, and in that way, this particular design helps us realize that it is indeed time for us to reconsider our methods on how we approach a building’s surroundings while we design it.
The fundamental idea should be to allow the surrounding nature inside, rather than eliminating it, through architecture, which will result in creation as unique as this.