Architects: WSP Architects
Year: 2005/2008
Area: 1425 SQM

Moshan Residence is a boutique hotel in the valley of Beijing. At first glance itself, the structure feels like a perfect fit for the site. It blends so well with the landscape. The use of just two materials –sheer concrete walls & wooden grilles on the façade is very true to the modern architectural style

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Moshan Residence, Beijing_@WSP Architects
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Model of the residence along with the terrain_@WSP Architects

The structure is designed as two detached houses sitting on a slope on the northern hillside next to the poplar grove. This project is part of another conference center  by architects forming a singular community space. Moshan Residence overlooks the twelve courtyard guest –houses of the conference center , the large poplar forest & distant mountains to the south.

Interestingly, the structure settles on the slope with the roof following the same slope; part volume is submerged into the hill. The residence is on three floors, but the outer façade depicts only a one-story volume because it is on the slope. 

Moshan Residence is a fine example, where the placement of the structure to the design of the form puts nature around in the spotlight. The residence feels organically part of the slope, the poplar tree grove, and stones. 

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The change of landscape through summer/spring_@WSP Architects
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The change of landscape through winter_@WSP Architects

One can feel the roughness visually, similar to the bark of trees around with concrete shear wall structure and rough granite on the outer walls & roof. The outer wall of the inner courtyard is made of wooden grilles. These vertical grilles blend along with the vertical trees around the residence. During the winters with snow & deciduous trees, the building looks more integrated into the landscape. The inner courtyard walls are also equipped with wooden grilles to maintain privacy, filling the indoor spaces with light. 

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Wooden Grilles- view from interior_@WSP Architects

As explained by the architects on the energy-saving aspect of the project – The building uses ground-source heat pumps for low-temperature hot water floor radiant heating; the exterior wall is an insulation layer, and an air layer between the concrete wall and the external granite; doors and windows are also made of broken bridge aluminium alloy frames and insulating glass to enhance the energy-saving effect of the project. (WSP Architects, 2015)

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Interior plans of the residence_@WSP Architects

The interior of the courtyard-style rooms is arranged in a U-shape, and due to the different terrain, the entrance to the courtyard is split into different levels–one could enter the basement or the first floor. I divided the function of the building into three floors, of which the first floor, the courtyards & the basement are more of the main & public spaces facing the inner courtyards. The entrance hall, living room, dining room, and two standard guest rooms are on the first floor. In contrast, the basement accommodates the entertainment space, including the billiard room, bar, home cinema, and equipment rooms. The second floor is more private, having two completely independent suites. Also, the auxiliary spaces in the layout, such as stairs, corridors, balconies & more, face the valley.

As cited by the architects explaining the project’s interiors – Inside the house, six courtyards are arranged at different heights with different functions. The independent tea room in the south extends from the main body through the entrance corridor, enclosing the main entrance courtyard and the main courtyard, together with a large sloping roof. Different functions are divided into four horizontal volumes according to the type falling along the hill. The sloping roof is an extension of the vertical south-facing facade, and the seven large roof leaks corresponding to the six courtyards are large windows facing south on the facade. (WSP Architects, 2015)

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View of interior courtyard_@WSP Architects
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View of interior courtyard_@WSP Architects

Moshan Residence as a courtyard hotel is minimal and very thoughtful. The architects had described it as a stone box in the valley due to the concrete shear wall structure making the twelve buildings all together look like a group of stone boxes scattered in the valley. 

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Site plan of conference center  depicting the “stone boxes” _@WSP Architects
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Site plan model for the conference center. The white blocks as Moshan Residence_@WSP Architects

Furthermore, another concept of the building explained by the architects is as buildings floating in the green space like an island, which not only has a close connection with the surrounding environment but also emphasises the harmonious relationship between the building and nature. WSP architects, a twenty-seven-year-old widely recognised practice worldwide, focus on protecting the environment but also creating a beautified & serene space that rejuvenates oneself. 

The WSP architect’s hotel design is described as “landscape in architecture” and “building in landscape” as it emphasises local culture and humanistic temperament. 

In his speech, Wu Gang, founding chief designer and chairman of Weisiping (WSP) Architectural Design, refers to architect Glen Murcutt who once said that he hoped the building he designs will always “touch the earth gently” and let the buildings blend into nature. To which architect Wu Gang added, “I think if he is Chinese, he should interpret his design with “harmony between man & nature.” (WSP Architects, 2018)

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Views of Moshan Residence through deciduous trees_@WSP Architects
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Views of Moshan Residence through deciduous trees_@WSP Architects
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Views of Moshan Residence through deciduous trees_@WSP Architects
Views of Moshan Residence through deciduous trees_@WSP Architects

Moshan residence being a magnificent structure, is also deeply rooted. It is intricate with details that strongly support the ideology of the architect. The experience created of having a softer core with green & zen-like courtyards compared to the rustic & rough façade is tranquil. The residence strongly strikes as a modern architectural structure tucked away in the lap of nature, creating a perfect balance. 

Reference list:

  1. WSP Architects (2015) MOSHAN RESIDENCE, BEIJING GUQUAN CITIC GUOAN CONFERENCE CENTER, 维思平(WSP ARCHITECTS) –. Available at: (Accessed: February 12, 2023). 
  2. WSP Architects (2018) HE SAID ARCHITECTURE SHOULD BE ORDINARY, LIKE TOUCHING THE EARTH LIGHTLY 说建筑应该是平常的,就像轻轻触摸着大地 , 维思平(WSP ARCHITECTS) –. Available at: (Accessed: February 12, 2023). 

Sanjana is an architect from Delhi & now based in Bangalore. She has a keen interest in urban context & fabric of cities. She completed her MA in Architecture + Urbanism from the Manchester School of Architecture. She loves to put her thoughts down in form of words, illustrations & pictures. Her idea is to travel like a local, to get into day to day lifestyle of the place she visits.