Daniel WU, owner of our project, said: “Ziyu, you see the most beautiful thing in the village is the highest relic tree. We should see it from our house in the future.” Thus we divide the broken wall into two, turn the middle part into a courtyard. During the day, people can appreciate the raindrops dripping down from the roof. During the night, the astonishing milky way will light the sky. The form of the two roof ridges are similar as the distant mountain-shades. The highest relic tree and ancient village both blend in our Tongling Recluse.
-Ziyu Zhuang Recluse Record
Tradition and modern both prevail in the our contemporary Chinese architectural practice. Tongling Recluse locates in a secluded village in southern Anhui, the project originates from a normal house integrate the Hui style with the Chinese riverside style. The existing building occupies a small area of the highest peak in the village. It has not been inhabited for more than ten years, thus the present situation is very dilapidated, weeds and shrubs spring up the surrounding areas. The house has three span in east-west direction and one span in south-north direction, the original roof and wall are severely damaged.
▼改造后的山居，融于自然之中。The building after renovation merged into the nature. © 苏圣亮
Hence, we extend one span straight to the rocky mountain in west direction, add one span in south-north direction forming a spacious space for living room. We introduce curves in part of the plan, abstract the volume from the original projected outline, and dissimilate the original volume into a transitional enclosure. Due to the damaged conditions and the limited height, we add one more floor to the existing building, stretch the twin volumes in space which is lofting from the curves in plan. Heading down the ridge at the front part shaping a both scattered and continuous surface in spatial. Traditional folded roof blends with the abstracted curves into a whole, coincide with the cosmology of Chinese culture, as Laozi said: “Tao beget one, One begets two.” When looking down from above, the whole roof covered with grey tiles generating a unique shape. Tongling Recluse can not only merge into the ancient village but also stand out with its special appearance, as well as presenting the interior characteristics from the exterior.
▼建筑外观，external view of the building © 苏圣亮
▼建筑入口，砖、铜、玻璃和木材相结合。Entrance of the building combines brick, copper, glass and wood together. © 苏圣亮
Therefore the house forms a four span space in east-west direction. Start from the east, the first span is an anteroom for living room situating at the south part of the site. Under the second span, the remain broken wall forms a courtyard and a glassy sightseeing platform on the second floor. The bedroom space accommodates under the third span forms with the exsiting walls on the west. The last span straight to the mountain on the west, forms a Chinese traditional underoof-space, also blends parts of the mountain landscape. Seen from the south elevation, the house seems like a contemporary collage under a series of traditional context.
▼内庭院和通透的起居空间 。The courtyard continued with a transparent living space. © 苏圣亮
▼开敞的客厅和餐厅。The open space for living and dining. © 苏圣亮
We add one more ridge next to the original one on the east elevation that suggest a relationship of twin-buildings, bringing a balance of peace and quiet. The new ridge itself becomes a span, half of it merged into the outline of existing building, the other half becomes a veranda under the eaves. It creates a contrast between nothingness and essence on the east elevation as well as communicates with the landscape of sunken courtyard on the south. Different from the (typical Chinese paintings’) perspectives scattered horizontally on the southern façade, the limited views through the eastern glass wall lift over a small cliff are more like one-point perspective views. The interior brass decorations, the cornice along with the suspend terrace creating a feeling of dynamic and anticipation.
▼设计概念，新生屋脊形成虚实对比空间。Design conception, the new ridge creates contrast between nothingness and essence.
▼二楼空间，新生的屋脊形成檐下走廊。Space in the second floor with a new ridge creating a under eave corridor. © 苏圣亮
▼从二层走廊看入口庭院。View of the courtyard from the corridor on the second floor © 苏圣亮
▼檐下走廊，corridor under the eave © 苏圣亮
The major internal active space which appose to the external corridor space staggered by a series of remaining and new walls, thus the remaining broken wall is used as a sequence of interior cut-off walls. Terrace, living room, dining room, kitchen, courtyard and bedroom are lined up from east to west decreasing by the privacy. Stepping into the living room through the external corridor space from the southern stairs, habitants could have family gathering and activities. The first floor is designed so the public view is unencumbered so that you can experience the area showcasing the parlors original height. On the right, a semi-outdoor terrace offering a magnificent view of the continuous mountains and the entire village. Turning left, habitants enter a more private dining space and catering space on the opposite side. There is a bedroom and a bathroom on the first floor and the two more bedrooms and bathrooms in the loft, which can be accessed from the staircase in the living room.
▼主卧，采用整面玻璃滑门加深与环境的联系。Master bedroom with full-sized glass sliding door, creating close relationship to the environment. © FNJI
▼卫生间，通过长窗取景。Washroom, enjoy view through ribbon windows. © 苏圣亮
Atrium is the core of the floor plan, turning the existing interior space into a new one. Remaining walls and old doors on the south are reserved to manifest a sense of respect and salute to the old memories. For contrasting and echoing it, we add a new copper door with a dimension of 5 meters height and 1.2 meters wide on the one side of the old gate. We intend to emphasis a sense of ceremony by highly increasing the proportion which this design method is commonly used in contemporary church design in Europe. Responding to the culture of copper city, we use copper repeatedly in the interior. For instance, the copper frame of dining space connecting to the copper door, next to the dining room is a copper stairs leading to the second floor. The copper frame also bearing the east remaining gable wall which acting a role of decoration wall in the living room as well as a shield between the living room and vertical circulation space. A copper integrated kitchen and northern backdoor which leading to the vegetable garden next to the north side of the copper frame. Integrated kitchen is embedded into the wall extruded out of the north gable wall as a cube, we hide all outdoor unit of air conditioner inside the cube at the meanwhile. Looking down from above, copper materials connecting the space creating a sense of continuity from the overall layout. The major structure and rest part of Tongling Recluse are mainly wood, representing the ancient village culture and living vitality.
▼铜门与其他传统材料形成鲜明对比。The copper door contrasts with the traditional materials of brick and wood. © 苏圣亮
▼整合的铜制厨房和后门。Integrated kitchen and back door of cooper. © 苏圣亮
Atrium, together with the west grey space under the eaves, creates a repeatedly transferring relation between emptiness and solidity on the east-west direction. It also achieves a high level of transparence which breakthough the limit of traditional house, with with the suspended stairs and full height glazing on the east. On the south-north direction, a sequence of clerestories separate the walls and hyperbola roof, emphasizing a sense of contemporay and intensifying the floatability of roof. A string of fenestellas, some important part of the building such as bedrooms,stairs, etc, creates a opposite scenery in and out the building as well as echos each other.
▼高窗加强屋檐的漂浮感，使室内外形成视线呼应。The high window enhance the lightness of the roof, while creating visual contact between in and out. © 苏圣亮
The southern part of the building is the soft landscaping elements reacting the secluded idyllic space form by the building shape. Together with the hyperbola roof blending the distant mountain into the architectural space. There is a gate to the mountain on the southwest side, ascending step by step from the foothills, gate and house composes a framed scenery at the first glance. Gate along with the south parapets and house enclose a courtyard. The grey space under the west roof connects with Karst landscape rock forming a stone steps veranda. Between the gate and courtyard, there is a sunken garden surrounding a tall arbor tree on the southeast defining its territory. Stone table and chair make a perfect place for recreational use. The cliff on the east has a relatively small height difference, house hang over the cliff about 2 meters long. Habitants can exit the house from the north backdoor, there is an area of outdoor terrace and cropland led by the nature steps and vegetation. Tongling House aims to create a picturesque rusticity where (tenant/owner/visitor) can experience the idyllic lifestyle.
▼景观游廊概念示意图。Concept animation of the generation of the landscape veranda.
▼景观廊道和观景台。Sight seeing corridor and terrace.
Strictly limited by the site conditions, we choose to process the steel structure on site in order to build the spatial curve roof more quickly and reduce the impacts of big scale stucture to the remained traditional house. For purpose of transporting construction materials, we also build a suspended trestle connecting the site and adjacent road. In order to implement the hyperbolic roof under limited technical conditions, we extract slice of polylines parallel to the gable wall and several structure curves along the ridge to shape the whole steel spatial grid system. We enlarge the scale of structure curves to suggest the twin-roof relations. We also adjust and optimize the pixel roof surface made by wood batten under the special spatial grid system in certain angle and position.
▼屋檐细部，close view of the eave © 苏圣亮
Based on the steel structure, we first remove, mark and save the bricks of remained walls one by one, and rebuild the original wall after the new building foundation and main steel structure are constructed. During the process of rebuild brick walls, bricks are cut into pieces of slices as outside decoration in order to hide the steel structures inside the traditional elements. This method is commonly used on restoration and renovation of traditional house for the sake of saving bricks. New walls are composed with different old bricks from local buildings. To intensifying the differences between old and new, we brush the newly part with white paint which are commonly used on house in south of the Yangtze River and Huizhou. At the connecting part, we use antique finish intentionally creating a sense of harmony and unity. Same to the brick walls, columns and roof are built by the old tiles recycled from the old local houses. We invite local craftsman to do the masonry with local technics echoing the local culture on the tectonic side as well as showing sustainable ecological philosophy.
▼瓦片隔墙细部，detail of the partition wall composed of old tiles
▼黄昏的山居。The recluse in the dusk. © 苏圣亮
▼一层平面图，first floor plan
▼二层平面图，second floor plan
建筑师: RSAA / 庄子玉工作室
Credits and Data
Architect: RSAA / Büro Ziyu Zhuang
Principal Architect: ZHUANG Ziyu
Design Team: QI Zhengdong, LI Jing, ZHAO Xin, FAN Hongyu, ZHU Kunyu, WANG Jiaxin(Intern)
Architecture Consultant: Daniel Wu
Landscape Consultant: YANG Shugen
Construction Team: Anhui Jiangnan Cultural Tourism Group
Owner Unit: Brain Media
Floor Area: 160m2
Landscape Area: 600m2
Photographer: SU Shengliang, FNJI