For an architect, as the construction of a building is completed, it is almost the same mood of putting a letter into a mailbox. Who will read this letter? What’s the expectation of the reader for opening the envelope? Will the reader enjoy it or not? Will it be held dear or thrown away immediately?
Architecture for us is like the word for a writer, just another way of expression. Japanese architects like to use the word “growing” to convey a building breaking out from the ground. This lively expression actually has an important meaning for architecture: though the building is designed by the architect, its key determinant should be the air, the earth, the weather, and the people on site. “Growing” a building is especially fit for the city of Xiamen.
In the beginning of 2011, we came here to the site of Hotel Wind, and as soon as we climbed to the top of Yunding Mountain behind the site, a local guy who came with us said an idiom to explain the local geological features: "green welled out from thousands of stones." Because of the warm, moist weather in the south of Fujian, the green vegetation overgrowth is quite normal here, even on the surface of stones and the gaps in between them. This is also where our concept came from: architectural boxes “growing” from the mountain, facing the sea, boundless and endless.
The other architectural inspiration is the traditional form of the ancestral temple in the south of Fujian, as the center of the family’s culture and communication, the ancestral temple features both spiritual and material functions, and all the other houses in this village should be built to face the ancestral temple. This kind of traditional centripetal space shows a kind of spatial understanding of public and private for residential buildings. From this point of view, the hotel is very similar to a small village: guests may or may not maintain outside communication, but you can experience the interaction between the public space and the private suites. We installed three different wells for Hotel Wind: a well of rain, a well of a tree, and a well of wind. These three architectural installations insert into the building from the rooftop, pass by some suites, and meet in the lobby finally. We tried to introduce the exterior into the interior and blur the boundaries of public and private by means of these viewable installations, and form a space that appears to flow infinitely.
Let’s get back to people, the users of the buildings. During the process of design, we were always thinking what kind of how comfortable staying in Hotel Wind is since most of the high-end hotels can make it already. Besides the fancy basic facilities, boutique hotels should focus on the real need of the guests mentally. For this unique interior, we took approached the windows in suites first. Since each suite has different views, we cannot treat the location and the size of the windows normally. We defined them as the “finder frame” of the suites, and hopefully can get the best view for different suites like a professional photographer. So there are almost none of the same views in each room; every window is a unique “postcard” left by the architects of Hotel Wind.
Regarding the material selection process, we preferred to have different layers of the space for each of the rooms, by means of using different materials for each program. We took the high quality teak wood as the principal material for the suites, chosen not only for its sense of sight and touch, but also, the natural smell of the wood can give a more cozy feeling for the guests inside. And for the bath area, we picked neat concrete and local granite for a clean and simple feeling, hoping the users can calm down and relax at once. Besides that, a dressing table for female guests and a lounge area with big window was also installed in each room, to make the guests feel like the owners of the space.
The restaurant of Hotel Wind as the most important public space was set up on the rooftop of the main building. With white walls and transparent glass all around, the endless view of the sea and the mountain just hit your face directly from the outside. The same colored sky connects to the sea, extending into the space. Combined with the green welled out from the mountain, this must cheer you up for dining with the nature.
Architect In Charge: Xiao Lei, Wang Jin Collaborators: Chen Leeyang, Wang Qi, Zhang Tao, Jin Kuramoto (Balance Design), Ishibashi Tadahito (Balance Design) Construction: Chens’ Constructing Photographs: Nacasa & Partners