SOHO Commune near the Great Wall is a contemporary architectural monument. Opened in 2005, it marked the beginning of modern architecture in China. Set overlooking the Great Wall, SOHO China reached out to some of Asia’s finest upcoming architects – Seung H San, Kengo Kuma, Shigeru Ban, Gary Chang, Antonio Ochoa, and Nobuaki Furuya, to name a few – to build a series of spectacular contemporary villas that make the Commune on The Wall.
Client: SOHO China
Location: Beijing, China
GFA: 30,000 sqm
Design scope: Interior renovation design
Design Principals: Wendy Saunders & Vincent de Graaf
Studio Manager: Yvonne Lim
Project Architect：Davide Signorato
Interior Team: Ning Cai, Yuan Chen, Hwajung Song, Zhang Yi, Mavis Li
FFE Team: Peichin Lee, Baoer Wang
Photography: Lei Tantan, Geng Yi
The concept was simple enough: A different architect designs each villa; each villa is unique itself with a strong atmosphere and identity.
Now a part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection, a series of charismatic resorts worldwide, AIM’s mission is to work on the interiors of the villas and the main clubhouse building, and continue to unlock the unique potential of the Commune.
Our vision is to re-discover the original architecture and provide a personal and unique experience, bespoke, warm, and sincere, where customers can live the spirit and experience the personality of each architect.
“It is more important to use than to have‚ to share than to add‚ to empty than to fill” Beauty of poverty by Seung H-Sang
Following the architects’ philosophy, AIM re-creates an essential element where all redundant and unnecessary details are eliminated to leave space to contemplate the simplicity and brutality of architecture and focus on nature.
Kengo Kuma often creates a modest architecture that lives beyond the trend of the moment. Ancient materials, traditional craftsmanship, and natural materials express his desire for architectural modesty and simplicity. Yet, this simplicity hides a complex system of layers and textures, making the building always nuanced and sophisticated. Re-thinking about the essence of modest architecture, AIM design is minimal; shapes and forms are neat and essential. All materials are natural and locally sourced so that all spaces are related to the original traditional craftsmanship. Textures and patterns, on the other hand, are detailed and elaborated to provide high-end space.
During his trip to Beijing, Antonio Ochoa was very impressed by the striking and elaborate architecture of the Forbidden City. The memories of his journey profoundly influenced the design of the Cantilever House.
As it happens for the exterior architecture, AIM brings the same design language to the interior. Recalling the vivid colors from the traditional imperial architecture, the material palette in the Red House is rich and bold, and the textures are bright and vibrant. Red textured stucco, green marble, glazed ceramic tiles, brushed brass, and red walnut resemble the great ancient times of imperial China. The shapes are bold, rich, and curvy to recall the vibrant shapes and sinuous forms of the Forbidden City.
“Architecture is of value to me as a framework through which to consider the world.” Nobuaki Furuya
The building acts as a background for the relationship between humans and nature in the forest house, creating an opportunity for interactions and a strong spatial relationship with the forest.
Simplicity to its extreme defines the interior, and helps emphasize the connection between architecture and the surrounding landscape. In each guestroom, natural textured stucco covers the entire space. Only one element is present in the room that folds and assumes different functions: sometimes a bed, wardrobe, or desk.
The house should “expose” the customers to the surroundings, but at the same time should be a shelter, able to “shield” them from the natural elements that might be too harsh for human being to take.” Kanika R’kul
AIM intends to re-create a protective environment, guarding the customers against the harsh elements, creating an intimate and comfortable cocoon for people to meditate and relax. The furniture, curtain, soft materials embrace and “hug” the customers to feel safe and protected.