WUWEI FOREST

ECO-LIVING

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Location

Guangdong, China

Type

Residential, Hospitality

Award

RIBA Trophy

Year

2021

Design and Project Director

Begum Aydinoglu


Project Team

Adham Mashaal, Daria Ciobanu-Enescu


Architectural Assistants

Melike Tarakci, Simay Fidan


Visualization

Metrica Visuals

WuWei Forest Eco Living protects a living fossil of civilization, explores the coexistence between humans’ return and ecology, establishes the research on ancient trees’ culture and art.


Harmonious coexistence of buildings, trees, mountains and water, constructing spaces for humans’ spirit and soul by respecting nature.

 

The project consists of 6 different buildings; Ancient Tree Wellness Hotel & Spa, Hotel Villa Guesthouse, Hillside Villa, Mountain Top Big House, Hillside Townhouse and Treehouse.

The site is located at Kaisen Thousand Year Ancient Trees Garden in Pingan Village, Huizhou City, Guangdong Province, China. Embraced by numerous hills and mountains as well as ancient trees,the total area is 26.27ha. The project is located in the 1.5 hour economic circle of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay area.

Space Function and Combination in WUWEI FOREST ECO-LIVING


Rather than going against nature, sailing requires that you 'flow through nature effortlessly'. This is what Wu Wei means, recognizing the forces of nature and acting accordingly. This is apparent through the approach that is taken to achieve a perfect balance to a unique form with methodical space planning. One of the most important design approaches is the reference to Chinese culture through the Chinese garden design principles, which are: Borrowing, Framing, Blocking, Suppressing and Exposing. Through them, a design language is developed, which in turn helps with function distribution and unit planning. The principle of "borrowing" has a great influence on the design of the building units to provide the finest views. In addition, the "blocking" principle contributes to the distribution of service functions of each building unit. In addition, "framing" and "exposing" are implemented to accentuate some certain views that are in return emphasized. Some physical aspects of traditional Chinese architecture have been taken into account in planning, such as symmetry, which is achieved in particular by the wellness hotel, the hotel-tree house, the hillside townhouse and the mountain top big house. Besides, green courtyards are a prominent factor of Chinese architecture. They take a complementary role to further blend the design with the surroundings. A non-orthogonal design approach is inspired from the leaf structure of the three main ancient tree species located on the site. Through methodical thinking combined with traditional Chinese design principles, unique forms were generated which compliments each site unique conditions.

 


Considering Nature and Ancient Trees as IP in WUWEI FOREST ECO-LIVING


Due to the sensitive site conditions presented by the location of some existing ancient trees and challenging topography, these were considered as an integral part of the design. Aware of the history of the existing trees, an integrative approach was adopted to fully respect their presence. As a result, the creation of courtyards that accommodate some exciting trees represents a connection to the site rather than a competing approach. In addition, the sloping topography presented a design challenge. However, a minimal physical connection was sought to preserve the existing condition of the site. A stilt-like element is designed to elevate the units to limit any disturbance to the site. As a result, the site topography remains clear with minimal footprint. Guangdong province is characterized by having a humid subtropical climate which is acknowledged through the design generating natural ventilation cycle that took place through large façade openings that channels air from ground to upper level. In conclusion, consideration of the site’s existing nature conditions is heavily recognized, which drives the design decisions to be one with nature and compliment it.

 


Principle of Sustainable Influence


The driving force behind the proposed design concept is to be able to realize it using innovative methods that preserves, improves and sustains the existing conditions of the site. Furthermore, the generated form family has an outstanding potential for growth through its modularity that can be easily altered and adjusted to whichever site needs and requirements. Moreover, urban furniture was designed as a testament to the flexibility of this modular design. On the other hand, this initial phase can be a stepping stone to empower and encourage eco-living space through a live example that can propose different future possibilities. A This can take place through sustainable building and installing methods that compliment the strength of modular design and its vast possibilities. Moreover, the manufacturing can take place off site to further reserve site sensitive conditions. Considering all of these, sustainable methodology and modular design can broaden the possibilities to what can be achieved and built on any site location which are a main factor to the proposed design.

 


Cost Control in WUWEI FOREST ECO-LIVING


The objective of cost control follows the concept of resource balance through locally sourced materials. Given the rich environment of the Guangdong province, the flow of materials is enabled though the integration of scrap-based composite finishes (bamboo, rammed earth) and regional wood resources. This facilitates both a technical dexterity in terms of fabrication, transportation and assembly, as well as an aesthetic enhancement rooted in the traditional architecture of the area. Moreover, from a temporal point of view, the delivery and construction stages benefit from the proximity of material and manufacturing sources. The fabrication procedure combines both traditional wood-working techniques and modern systems such as milling and wood bending. Taking in consideration the design process, the on-site building stage is assisted and improved by the modularity of the design elements. Both joinery and assembly of the primary structure elements follow a consistent and progressive methodology, regardless of the customized shapes. The objective of these decisions aims to diminish technical malfunctions and delays, meanwhile enhancing the individuality of the architectural design proposal. The main drivers for a comprehensive economical management are represented by the fusion between source, resources and design approach. Hence, the objective of a controlled flow of materials and rigorous on site-construction is reinforced by time, assembly and labor efficiency.

 


Environmental Protection and Sustainability in WUWEI FOREST ECO-LIVING


The sustainable approach seeks to achieve moderation and efficiency in terms ofenergy, materials, and the ecosystem. Given the predominant natural landscape on site, taking into consideration the fusion between the built and the environment is vital for achieving conservation and resilience through design. One of the main elements in shaping the architectural concept is the connection between the landscape and the design proposal. Through the integration of the existing vegetation, the built space becomes a continuation of the ecological realm. Trees become responsive drivers within the buildings, serving in terms of noise reduction and light level control. Hence, the boundary between built and unbuilt becomes less poignant.


The architectural methodology pursues the notion of autonomy and resource stability through the use of performative irrigation, heating and energy systems. Solar panels consisting of thin fil solar cells enable the flow of energy through daylight exposure. They are also flexible in terms of shape, able to be customized according to surface undulation. The heating and cooling process is possible with the use of a fan coil unit that does not require ductwork, keeping the design light. Additional energy and gas is supported by a bio-digester that transforms waste into biofuel. The interior courtyards are irrigated through a connection to water technical units that collect rainwater and transfer it to the designated green spaces.


The protection of the existing natural landscape and the use of environmentally conscious methods for energy production and waste management are essential in contouring an architectural ecology. Hence, the fusion between the built and the natural becomes symbiotic and seamless.