These Geometric Cabins in China Seem to Float Over a Hillside

Tasked with revitalizing a rural area with agricultural tourism, Shanghai–based firm ZJJZ builds a minimalist cabin cluster called the Woodhouse Hotel.

Architectural firm ZJJZ was tapped to craft a design destination in the remote village of Tuanjie as part of a government effort to alleviate economically depressed areas in rural China with agricultural tourism.

With no local architectural vernacular to draw on, the firm sought "to capture the beauty of nature with tranquil forms that harmonize with the surrounding environment." For the Woodhouse Hotel, the architects opted to build the cluster of 10 cabins in three different, equally striking shapes: a rectangle, triangle, and trapezoid.

"Unlike other rural areas, the village of Tuanjie has little traditional architecture to hold onto," says the firm. "Instead, the striking landscapes and pollution-free farmlands are the village’s greatest assets."

"Unlike other rural areas, the village of Tuanjie has little traditional architecture to hold onto," says the firm. "Instead, the striking landscapes and pollution-free farmlands are the village’s greatest assets."

"We avoided complex or exaggerated designs and selected three basic geometric forms," say the architects. Extensive site surveys enabled them to choose the best placement for the cabins on the hillside, and the best shape for each spot.

"We avoided complex or exaggerated designs and selected three basic geometric forms," say the architects. Extensive site surveys enabled them to choose the best placement for the cabins on the hillside, and the best shape for each spot.

The cabins share a common interior and exterior material palette for consistency, and to better allow them blend in with the hillside. "The design of the wood houses aims to harmonize with the landscape and the rustic atmosphere while forming a contrast to the existing village buildings," says the firm.

The cabins share a common interior and exterior material palette for consistency, and to better allow them blend in with the hillside. "The design of the wood houses aims to harmonize with the landscape and the rustic atmosphere while forming a contrast to the existing village buildings," says the firm.

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Each cabin is constructed from an elevated steel platform with charred wood siding. A footpath connects them.

Each cabin is constructed from an elevated steel platform with charred wood siding. A footpath connects them.

The design focus was on reducing separation between indoors and out, as each cabin is essentially one interior room with strategically placed windows to access views while maintaining privacy.

The design focus was on reducing separation between indoors and out, as each cabin is essentially one interior room with strategically placed windows to access views while maintaining privacy.

Per the architects: "For interior space, various windows are cut out in each house according to their form and orientation, introducing rich layers of surrounding landscapes into the pure volumes." Stone accents, via the floors and vanity counter, contrast with the wood details.

Per the architects: "For interior space, various windows are cut out in each house according to their form and orientation, introducing rich layers of surrounding landscapes into the pure volumes." Stone accents, via the floors and vanity counter, contrast with the wood details.

Wood paneling wraps the interior of a trapezoidal cabin.

Wood paneling wraps the interior of a trapezoidal cabin.

Much was done so as not to disrupt the natural rock formations and surrounding forest when siting and building the cabins.

Much was done so as not to disrupt the natural rock formations and surrounding forest when siting and building the cabins.

Related Reading: A Chinese Sugar Mill From the 1960s Becomes a Cave-Inspired Hotel

Project Credits:

Architect: ZJJZ 

Structural and Civil Engineer: Guiyang Architectural Design & Surveying Prospecting Co., Ltd 

Client: Guizhou Dafa Tourism Development Co., Ltd.

Photographer: Laurian Ghinitoiu

Melissa Dalton
Dwell Contributor
Melissa Dalton is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon, who has been writing for Dwell since 2017. Read more of her work about design and architecture at melissadalton.net.

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