Design Firm: Wutopia Lab
Chief Architect: Yu Ting
Project Architect: Mu Zhilin
Design Team: Shi Difan (Intern), Mi Kejie
Fortune Art Homestay Master planner: Zhu Xudong, Co-founder of E-House
Location: Xiyaotou Village, Zhangjiakou City, Hebei, China
Project Year: 2021
The project is known for its white, clean high walls surrounding the guest inside.
The project believes in the identity of the tourists as strangers inside the building. The architecture of the building is expressed as acceptance and mutual respect for the differences present between the local villagers and tourists.
Considering his personal experience, Yu-Ting sought peace and calm during his stay. He realized the importance of personal space for a traveller without any interference from the locals and wished to adopt this in the homestay design. He says that he wishes: “that strangers who come to this village can find a place to breathe. In this room that rejects the view, the psychology of self-exile is used to build a deep inner view of relaxation and inspire confidence in the future.” Thus, the design breaks the conventional ways and adopts a new vision for the locals and the ‘strangers’.
The architect describes his identity as a stranger in the Xiyaotou village. The project is also called ‘Strangers’ which comprehends the relationship of visitors in an unfamiliar environment as a tourist. The building has a reserved, closed nature from the surroundings due to the 7-meter-high walls. However, the interiors of the building ensure a close-knit environment.
The architect noticed that the previous abodes of the village were surrounded by continuous walls. Despite the high continuous walls, the villagers still gather together and have a very close-knit bond. But because the homestay accommodates tourists from different parts of the world, the architect understood the need for a certain level of privacy in the homestay. Hence, the architect raised the wall to 7 meters to create an enclosed protected environment and protect the privacy of tourists at the homestay.
Every coin has two sides. While the high walls provide a close private character to the building, they also restrict the views and visually distance the tourists from the villagers—the design intended to engage the tourists inside the homestay. On tour, people generally want a room providing a view of the new place from their place of stay. However, the project defies this notion. The architect’s vision questions if a ‘room with a view’ is fundamental for a homestay. Rather, he encourages us to look on the inside and practice introspection while being in the homestay having a few traces in the context. He decided to refrain from introducing a ‘fake vernacular’ look and implement a design that respects the boundaries of both the strangers and the local villagers.
The planning is carried out in a way to create an introverted character of the homestay to engage the users inside the homestay. The entrance of the homestay takes the guest to a semi-open tea house in front of the courtyard. The central space connects the four guest rooms. Due to this, the tourists who don’t know each other will get encouraged to interact with each other. There is a level difference between the central space and the guest rooms. The guest rooms also get daylight due to the skylights in the rooms. The guest rooms have attached bathrooms as well.
Materials and construction
The building uses various materials for a clean and contemporary look. The exterior walls are painted white to create a clean finish look. The central space of the building has a dark brick wall with voids (brick jaali wall) in contrast to the other white walls. Glass is used for getting daylight through windows and skylights. The architect has used wooden roof frames to create attractive roofing inside the building.
The building uses materials such as rammed earth and concrete to provide structural integrity to the building. These materials were selected in response to the site context of the countryside and also considering the aesthetics.
Apart from this, the interior central courtyard space has warm yellow lights during the night creating a lovely ambience.
The project was designed with strict budget control. The thick walls block the harsh cold winds during winter and create a warm environment inside the building. Alternatively, the thick walls also provide an incredible experience during summer, reducing the need for electricity for thermal comfort. This was confirmed by the local villagers, as well.
Building 3 for Fortune Art Homestay, while providing a profound experience of introverted architectural character, also makes a statement to respect the boundaries between the locals and the guests.
Image 9_Building interiors with lighting_©archdaily.com
1.ArchDaily (2021). Building 3 for Fortune Art Homestay in Xiyaotou Village / Wutopia Lab [online]. Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/966438/building-3-for-fortune-art-homestay-in-xiyaotou-village-wutopia-lab [Accessed date: 11 October,2022]
2.Dezeen.com.(n.d.) Building 3 for Fortune Art Homestay in Xiyaotou Village
by Wutopia Lab [online]. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/awards/2022/longlists/building-3-for-fortune-art-homestayin-xiyaotou-village/ [Accessed date: 12 October,2022]
3.Floornature.com. Rooms without a view. Strangers by Wutopia Lab in China [online]. Available at:https://www.floornature.com/blog/rooms-without-view-strangers-wutopia-lab-china-16489/
[Accessed date: 11 October,2022]