With the word Qingchen meaning “Green City Wall Mountains” in the literal sense, Mount Qingcheng is popular for its verdant greenery and year-round foliage, aside from being considered the birthplace of Taoism. An important sanctuary for the conservation of Giant Panda and a sought-after destination for Sichuan cuisine, Mount Qingchen, particularly the City of Dujiangyan, remains a popular and sacred destination for pilgrims and tourists alike.

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Located just southwest of Chengdu, the areas around the mountain offer a quick getaway from the noise and bustle of the city. Envisioned to provide a holistic healing experience, the Mount Qingcheng Indigo Resort aspires to realign the human spiritual experience by exposing its guest to nature most of the time.  Locating this hotel development within the vicinity of a UNESCO Heritage site meant that HKS should be able to demonstrate how to nurture an organic experience while still providing guests with modern conveniences.  

Reinventing the Way

With Taoism at its heart, a destination resort envisioned to be in complete harmony with nature, the Mount Qingcheng Indigo Resort is nestled within the lush greenery at the foot of the mountain. With the majestic mountain ranges as its backdrop and a series of reflective pools surrounding the site, capturing the local spirit and blending into the site has been the primary goal of this project from the start. 

According to Taoist principles, to achieve balance, one must flow with nature and understand working with its forces to achieve a balanced and harmonious life. This also meant that respecting the heritage of the area and the site should be closely paid attention to. With historical interests and temples fronting the entrance to the mountain range, working with the terrain and mimicking traditional planning and way of life is crucial to help preserve the spirit of this place. 

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Embarking on a new journey

Situated at the edge of the Qingcheng Mountain range, the Mount Qingcheng Indigo Resort by HKS covers a footprint of 35 000 sqm with commercial areas, guest rooms, and a conference centre as key features to the development. Meanwhile, the 230-key hotel has been laid out similarly to a traditional village. Outlying buildings dot the site, with restaurants flanking the northern lakeside view and guest rooms located in the quieter parts of the development. 

Taking inspiration from a typical local village, the development follows a hierarchy of pathways, with each zone merging towards the middle part of the development at some point. While the front area is dotted with temples and cultural interests, the rear side of the mountain veers towards the calm and tranquil views of the mountain, offering a contrast of worlds and a promise of two different experiences. With a 270-degree view from the lobby, this hotel by HKS offers an interesting view of the Qingcheng Mountain range, making the welcome experience feel like a new journey with a glimpse of the destination beyond. 

Tradition Reinvented

There is a saying that “All roads lead to Rome”, except that this time we are in China, and it leads to the 36 peaks of the Qingcheng Mountain range. There is no reason this hotel could not be the area’s crowning glory, at least in modern times. Designed to blend in rather than to stand out, it allows the whole experience to be focused more on the temple at the mountain’s peak instead of being blindsided by a shiny new hotel. 

The minimal approach in design perfectly provides an interesting contrast against the other materials to be used in the project -brick for walls, wood for framing and structural elements, and stone tile roofing. The use of materials also corresponds to the building language of the traditional buildings surrounding the site, with the hotel’s design being less eloquent yet speaking more of its time.  

To achieve a sympathetic design and grounded appeal, HKS sought to use local materials to integrate the building into the cultural and natural landscape naturally. Bricks are specified for walls designed in modern silhouettes and executed with traditional undertones. Despite the traditional materials, the clean lines and straightforward planning render the project to have a modern yet laid-back appeal.  

A tale beyond borders

This HKS-designed Mount Qingcheng Indigo Resort provides an interesting take on modern traditional architecture -introducing local cultural nuances and interpreting them to modern encounters. Whether looking to conquer the mountains or head back down after self-discovery, the Mount Qingcheng Indigo Resort is the perfect gateway to take a rest and enjoy what the region has to offer. Surrounded with fresh air, historical sceneries and a traditional culture, there is no better way to take a break away from the city life. With plenty of activities surrounding the area, not only you can try new adventures through the Taoist trails and temples but also immerse yourself as you sample local delicacies and join seasonal festivities. From the giant pandas to the food or sharing your newfound truth, this resort offers a design that can be considered as a modern traditional encounter. 


With a predilection for imperfect things and strong coffee, Chris is an architect who spends his free time sketching, gardening, or pondering on topics that pique his interest. He aspires to bridge the old and the new by looking at how evolving culture and future technology can help reshape environments.