Advanced Architecture Lab

The Yichang area of China is not hidden in the taiga, but is set in a green expanse with shadowed forests and open skies above. A futuristic reflective mountain and cloud cabins with pointy roofs emerge from these dense forests. Designed as a scattered hotel, Mountain & Cloud Cabin comprises 18 wooden units that function as hotel rooms, a cafeteria, and a pool set in the countryside overlooking the Blue River in Hubei Province. Occasionally, mist shrouds the structures, giving the project the name Mountain and Cloud Cabins. Due to the incomplete reflection of the mirror surface, the wooden cabin can blend in well with the surroundings. There are times when the tea garden is shadowed by dense fog in the mountains, giving it a mysterious and quiet air.

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet1
Aerial View _©Arch-Exist
Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet
Aerial View of Cabins and Surroundings_©Arch-Exist

Concept and Design Philosophy

Build-in harmony with nature- WikiWorld + Advanced Architecture Lab has designed and built Mountain and Cloud Cabin. The leading architect, Mu Wei, lived in Norway, and the beautiful mountain site reminded him of the aurora in Norway. It is built as a part of nature. The cabins are designed to make them appear to come from the future, but they vanish into the wilderness. Cabins are thus like viewfinders of nature and are allowed to breathe freely in the forest. As if forming nests on an individual scale, the structures are ‘alive and float’ in the surrounding woods. The construction materials and geometries of buildings themselves contribute to the camouflage effect. The reflective metal panels and wooden grids replicate and mimic nature.

The act of breathing and floating in nature –  The architecture has been inspired by nature and the diversity of tea fields and mountains, with viewfinders in the tea fields, bridges in the valleys, spaceships in the woods, and buildings stacked on a hillside. Thus, the architecture reflects nature. 

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet3
Master Layout _©Arch-Exist

Design Planning 

The horizontal cabin is molded between the trees, floating on top of the terrain and overlooking the view of the Deng mountain range across a stretch of nearly 1,000 square meters. In comparison, the bridge suite crosses fields of tea, and the vertical loft rises 14 meters above the ground. The minimalist style of Mountain & Cloud Cabin unfolds over the ‘islands’, where those who live there are surrounded by a wooden refuge that warms and calms both their environment and spirits. Five different types of cabins are offered, ranging in size from 35 to 65 square meters. Timber dwellings feature a split-level design, with their pointed roofs piercing through dense clouds. The facades map the four seasons in real-time using reflective metal materials. Consequently, the building seamlessly blends into the natural environment. 

Taking inspiration from the surrounding fields and mountains, the project generates a series of unique architectural spaces. Using prefabricated, cross-laminated timber panels, the main structure of each cabin can be assembled in one day. Cabins are placed lightly on the mountain, like wooden cube toys, and the overall design and planning respect the terrain and the environment. The individual cabins are scattered between the trees along the mountainside, complemented by communal buildings that contain a cafe and a swimming pool. Inverted umbrella-shaped columns and point foundations minimize the impact on the environment, allowing the cabins to float within the forest. 

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet4
Details of the Cabin reflected during the day and night _©Arch-Exist
Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet5
Details of the Cabin reflected during the day and night _©Arch-Exist

Detail Oriented Cabins with Unique Style to Offer

The 14-meter-long bridge cabins with balconies are suspended above the tea fields. Also known as loft cabins, these cabins are referred to as ‘spaceships’. They stand 14 meters high and have pointed shapes. It appears the cabins have invisible cloaking technology when viewed from behind due to the reflective surfaces on the exterior. Down in the tea fields, cabins are referred to by the shape of their plans as T and Y cabins. Wiki World describes the layout of both of these buildings as a viewfinder layout, with their rooms facing in different directions and large picture windows framing views of the valley below. The last cabin type is the F cabin with multiple levels, terraces, and balconies that overlook the scenery.

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet6
Types of Cabins _©Arch-Exist

Design Solutions

There are various ways in which guests can be welcomed, each designed to respect the region’s rich natural biodiversity. All wood cabins are built according to energy-saving building standards to ensure a longer service life and comfortable use of the internal space. The fresh air system, air conditioners, and water heaters are included in the accommodations. The interior is arranged in a Nordic minimalist style to achieve a natural and refined holiday atmosphere, featuring an original wood texture. 

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet7
Details of an individual cabin with structure_©Arch-Exist

Innovative construction Techniques and Materials

The concept revolves around designing the ideal prefabricated home that consumes very little energy. With its ground-level heating and air exchange system, the main unit can be assembled in a day, reflecting the durability and eco-friendliness of the best sustainable buildings. The structures use glue-laminated timber panels from HBE. Low deformation rates and high structural strength make this wood an outstanding choice. As a result of the overall assembly accuracy of this system, all parts of the wooden house can be constructed simultaneously according to the drawing.  

Inverting the umbrella-shaped columns and establishing the point foundation allows the wooden cabins to float in the forest and cause minimal environmental damage. Each cabin is prefabricated from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and elevated on stilts to rest lightly on the ground. Mirrored metal plates and wooden grilles cover most of the facade of the building. Due to the incomplete reflection of the mirror surface, the wooden cabin can blend well into its environment. The dense fog of the mountains, giving it a mysterious and quiet atmosphere, can occasionally hide the tea garden.

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet8
Interior of the structure_©Arch-Exist
Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet9
Interior of the structure_©Arch-Exist

Attributes of the Interiors

Designed in a Nordic minimalist style, the interior features clean lines. The timber directly presents the original wood texture throughout the interior creating a natural and refined holiday atmosphere. For a unique holiday experience, some cabins are also equipped with fireplaces.

Cabins are elevated above the landscape to reduce impact and provide the best views. Mountain views can be enjoyed through floor-to-ceiling windows. Norway’s landscape is the inspiration for the design. The cabins are built to be energy efficient. Depending on the location, the cabin exteriors vary from mirrored cabins to bridge-like cabins in the tea valley. This unique appearance gives the region a much more mysterious aura.

Mountain and Cloud Cabins by Wiki World and Advanced Architecture Lab: Floating in Nature - Sheet10
CLT Process of designing the structure and Interior_©Arch-Exist
Reflecting the aspects of sustainability intertwined with nature_©Arch-Exist

Sustainability– The Trend

The wooden cabin is designed according to energy-saving building standards to ensure a longer service life and comfortable use of the interior space. Hotel intelligence is featured in all wooden cabins and air conditioners, water heaters, and fresh air systems.

Consequently, China is increasing its investment in domestic tourism and not just due to the Coronavirus epidemic. Elegant cabin resorts are top-rated. In the future, Chinese people will not have to take long flights to enjoy the benefits of hygge-flair.

References

Anon, (n.d.). Prefab holiday cabins appear to float among misty tea fields in China. [online] Available at: https://inhabitat.com/prefab-holiday-cabins-appear-to-float-among-misty-tea-fields-in-china/

ArchShowcase. (2020). Mountain&Cloud Cabins in Yichang, China by Wiki World+Advanced Architecture Lab(AaL). [online] Available at: https://www10.aeccafe.com/blogs/arch-showcase/2020/10/22/mountaincloud-cabins-in-yichang-china-by-wiki-worldadvanced-architecture-labaal/

Prisco, I. (2021). In China, a Nordic-Style Hotel Is an Archipelago of Cabins and Refuges Reflecting the Nearby Nature. [online] ELLE Decor. Available at: https://www.elledecor.com/it/best-of/a35736274/hotel-china-nordic-style-cabin-wiki-world-advanced-architecture-lab/ 

Stylemate, T.H.E. (2020). Mountain and Cloud Cabins, Hubei/China. [online] THE Stylemate. Available at: https://www.thestylemate.com/mountain-and-cloud-cabins-hubei-china-hotel/?lang=en

Author

Neha Lad, an Architect soon to be, adds a taste of design and creativity to the world of Architecture enhancing Nature as an added sweet dish, bringing unique flavor to the norms of Biology. She aspires to become an architect who depicts life in harmony with nature, where writing is her predominant mode of expression.

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