What is to be done with China's 700,000 left behind villages? How can the leisure demands of hundreds of millions of newly affluent consumers be met? How can the beauty, patterns and imagined simplicity of life in the countryside be experienced and enjoyed by visitors without being destroyed?
We started with these questions when we were challenged to transform Dashiyao, a mountain village that had been emptied by government order and whose population had been relocated to newly built row houses up the valley. An important aspect of the project was our client's commitment to engaging this original community as stakeholders in developing the site as a tourism based enterprise.
Charged with respecting the ambiance of the original village, we modified existing buildings and judiciously added new construction. The existing facades and tile roofs of Dashiyao‚Äôs farmhouses were retained. Their courtyards were opened to up to create an inviting series of park spaces without obtrusive utilities. New brick buildings with dark grey standing seam aluminum roofs added a crisp contemporary note to the resort. What had been a hut was given a glass curtain wall to reveal its structure and became the Athletics Center with an adjacent yoga platform sheltered by a ruin. A donkey stall was transformed into a glass-topped Pavillion.
At the center of the complex, what had been the Village Hall and Primary School were insulated and painted a luminous sky-blue. Now part of a five-fingered public area, these buildings were repurposed as the resort's Activity Center and Restaurant. A concrete Water Tower and Bridge punctuate this harmonious composition of buildings.
The village of Dashiyao has been gently and thoughtfully reimagined. It is now a delightfully engaging, highly functional and efficient resort of 4,674 square meters enclosed under roof on 22 hectares of landscaped grounds.