Shma Company Limited presents Le Meridien Hotel, located on an urban intersection in Zhengzhou City, China. The small-scale renovation project comprises 6,000 m² of landscaped area in front of an existing five-star hotel, completed in 2013 by Neri & Hu. The client’s brief called for a stunning hotel frontage landscape to improve the overall appearance, while also resolving ground parking and vehicle circulation. Given that the site is in a densely populated area, the firm set out to achieve a landscape that is interactive, imaginative, and artistically crafted in order to create a new landmark for the neighborhood.
Paying tribute to the historic textile weaving industry in Zhengzhou, Shma created sculptural-like landscape weaves and folds to generate an aesthetically pleasing public space. A series of undulating strips of lawn represent the silk being woven, up and down, into fabric sheets by traditional machines. An intermediate space is defined by matching the existing lobby pillars and architectural orders to stitch the landscape and building together in the master plan, seamlessly integrating it with the layout of the parking area. A water feature with a sculpture is placed in front of lobby drop-off area as a main welcoming element.
The use of two different colors for the stainless steel finishes and for the planters plays with the unique public/private character of the urban hotel. When viewed from the public road, a brilliant bronze color is used to project an outgoing and fun energy, signifying the importance of this urban corner. A black mirrored material is used to achieve a calmer and more relaxing emotion from inside the hotel looking out.
Given that there are massive structures for a new underground metro station beneath half of the landscaped spaces, the firm took great care in the coordination of paving patterns, manholes, and planting soil depth to achieve a simple design result. That includes camouflaging four ventilation shafts and an emergency staircase structure that pops up in the landscape, providing mirror finishes to make them disappear visually.
With the landscape was completed, the hotel district is enlivened by the lawn, the reflective water feature, and the interplay of reflections from the mirrored finishes of the planters. The privately owned public space is quickly becoming a new gathering spot for a variety of activities, from a meeting place for friends to a backdrop for Instagram selfies and wedding photoshoots. The landscape has become a new landmark in the intersection and has attracted tremendous interest from both residents and visitors.
In this project, the firm’s approach was to design and create a sculptural-like landscape for Le Meridien, while collaborating with the client to solve numerous site problems during the construction process. The result is that Le Meridien has become a new landmark for Zhengzhou.