Calm Hill is a community centre located in Chengde, near Beijing, at the foot of the Great Wall of China. Client wished to convey for the project is serenity - a space that is a natural, peaceful sanctuary away from busy urban life.
We took this theme of serenity and created a central design concept of ‘half mountain, half river / half house, half courtyard’. This design concept considers the location and natural surroundings of the site as well as traditional northern Chinese style architecture.
Traditionally, houses in northern China are tightly enclosed by a surrounding wall. From the outside, not much can be observed of the house’s interior design or features. This ‘closed’ form of architecture is typical of houses in northern China, where weather conditions can be considerably harsh during the winter. However, houses in southern China are traditionally more ‘open’, given the warmer climate of the region. Our design balances these two traditional forms – maintaining a ‘closed’ northern aesthetic whilst strategically ‘opening’ parts of the design to allow for a more dynamic modern feel.
The structure is split on two levels – the first level is an open, semi-covered courtyard space. The second level a fully enclosed indoor space with large rooms for functions. We used locally sourced materials such as charred timber, mao-bamboo and schist stone, all of which represent the local culture. The choice of material complements the building’s natural environment and creates a rich, immersive, multi-sensory experience.
The position and size of the windows are strategically placed along the structure. From the inside, the windows maximise the beauty the external view. From the outside, the windows are an attractive and interesting aesthetic feature. From a distance, the structure appears to be floating in space.