Sunyata Hotel By Zhaoyang Architects

Challenged with particularly difficult and specific building regulations, Chinese architecture firm Zhaoyang Architects has designed this hotel in the historic town of Dali Old Town so that guests can enjoy bright and scenic views from the inside out.

Located at the intersection between two different residential plots of land, Sunyata Hotel is an intricately constructed boutique lodging that centers around a bright inner courtyard. The brief required a 14 room hotel and a cafe that can be accessed by the general public. With less than 500 square meters to play with, the site proved to be a tricky location. It is bordered on three sides by residential houses and thus only one side was open to the street. The team decided that with such limited space, and few scenic views, they should utilize the inner courtyard and make that the focal point of the hotel.

To make the most of the street facing facade, Zhaoyang Architects placed the cafe there, framed by vast glass windows, making it a transparent space at the east side of the hotel. While the rest of the hotel looks inconspicuous to the average passer-by, the team felt that this adds to the exclusivity and beauty, commenting: “observed from the street, the hotel doesn’t stand out as a conspicuous expression, but looks more like the opening of a theatre stage, inducing the attention into the café interior and the courtyard beyond it.”

Among some of the most specific design requirements was the rule that 80% of the building has to be pitched roof covered with traditional tiles. To adhere to this, the team constructed seven double pitched roofs and one flat roof with traditional tiles. On the inside, these are lined with copper gutters which help filter out rainwater during the heavy rain season in Dali Old Town.

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All images © Jonathan Leijonhufvud and Pengfei Wang

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