Hotel Alila Yangshuo

Vector Architects

Architects: Vector Architects
Location: Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi, China
Area: 16,000 m2
Year: 2017
Photography: Chen Hao, Su Shengliang

Alila Yangshuo is located in a mountain pass near Li River in Yangshuo, Guangxi. Surrounded by a picturesque natural landscape, the site is in a typical karst region. An old sugar mill built in the 1960s is beautifully preserved, with an industrial truss used for sugar cane transport. We envision the industrial heritage as the representation of the spirit of an older generation. This became the premise for this project.

Our main design strategies include the following:

Old and New

Flanked with a newly added building and villa, the old sugar mill and industrial truss occupy the central part of the hotel complex. The sunken plaza and reflecting pond further accentuate the spiritual symbolism and significance of the old structure. In order to create a sense of consistency, instead of simply copying the old materiality and texture, we try to seek this nuance where we use more contemporary materials and construction methods while retaining the feel and the masonry structure of the old sections.

Hollow concrete blocks and board-formed cast-in-place concrete serve to make the new volume more light and transparent visually without disturbing the existing order, while enhancing natural lighting and ventilation at the same time. We keep the profile of the new building as simple as possible to avoid unnecessary distraction from the old sugar mill due to overly expressive geometry. The roof slope is consistent with the original: after the completion of the hotel complex, its profile becomes a cluster of pitched roofs. We hope the new volume evolves progressively and conveys a sophisticated consistency with the old construction.

Promenade Experience

We view our site as a garden for guests to wander through and ponder: the old sugar mill, the industrial truss, the new volumes, and the reflecting pond and path define spaces of different kinds. Two circulation systems pass through the suite building: one is a completely functional corridor system, while the other serves as a free public walkway, connecting three important cave-like node spaces. The public walkway is the extension of the promenade experience on the ground level. Wandering around the resort hotel, guests experience the alternation of light and dark, changes in the framed views of the landscape, distance and elevation.

Man-made and Natural

The site is surrounded by karst peaks, facing the Li River to the south and a busy road to the north. The horizontality of the architecture and verticality of the karst mountain shows an interaction between the man-made and natural elements. Additionally, the public walkway is an artificialized, geometric version of a pathway and cave that were carved into the karst mountain in ancient times. The ‘caves’ are carefully located so that they visually connect the architectural space with the natural mountain landscape.