Beautiful zen house with dramatic views

The water house is a private house, located at the foot of snow mountain Yulong in Lijiang, China. The residence sits on a wide open sloping site, which has a panoramic view towards Lijiang, an ancient trading settlement whose old town is famous for its historic network of waterways and bridges. Designed by architecture firm Li Xiaodong Atelier, the site lies at the foot of Yulong Mountain, its peaks forming a dramatic backdrop to the architecture. The house synthesizes traditional forms and techniques to make a contemporary building that resonates with place, history, and the surrounding landscape. Conceived as an interlocking series of contemplative, inward-looking courtyards, the house has an open yet closed courtyard space. Closed in the sense, it is “secured” and “separated” physically from the “outside world” by design elements such as stonewall, reflective pool and leveling; yet it is open visually towards the outside environment.

The cooling, calming presence of water threads through the house and low eaves frame and enclose indoor/outdoor spaces. The interior space is a minimum design, the intention of which is to leave indoor space clear and simple as much as possible, so that nature could be appreciated more from within. Li considers details are important contributors to the final results of the architecture, in this case, instead of decorative details; seamless clean details are designed to provide elegance to the overall effect of architecture.

Besides the steel structure, which was contracted to a professional team, the rest of the construction was done by local villagers; this is not simply to reduce the cost, but a clear message of regional engagement with architecture practice in the local context.

Photos: Li Xiaodong Atelier

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