Architects Tsao & McKown design vast wellness resort for China

by Kim Megson | 22 Apr 2016

Architecture practice Tsao & McKown are designing a 189,000sq m (2m sq ft) luxury wellness retreat along Yangcheng Lake outside of Suzhou, China, due to open in Q3 2016.

The project is being built through Octave – a development company owned by studio co-founder Calvin Tsao that is dedicated to creating wellness communities.

The retreat, called Sangha, will be comprised of residences, hotels and learning spaces. A 69-guestroom hotel offers a platform for wellbeing works, including an integrated medicine assessment and treatment centre, mind-body practice, coaching and counselling, spa, medi-spa and mindful dining.

Adjacent to the wellbeing hotel will be a village quarter that houses an executive education and learning complex, designed for deep group learning experiences.

The retreat will include a 6,000sq m (64,583sq ft) spa with treatments from massages to colonics, as well as a 1,200sq m (12,917sq ft) hammam, wet spa, steam room, saunas and night walks.

“Because the spa space is all about the environment and relocation and introspection it’s rather fantastical, I would say,” said Tsao. “It’s a subterranean space pierced with skylights – and the ceiling undulates. There are all sorts of bells and whistles.”

Sangha is heavily influenced by Confucian thought, including ideas of relationships with self, community, society and nature, which are incorporated in the design brief.

“Confucian thought is mainly about a methodology: priorities and values,” said Tsao. “These imbue the design process through the relationship between the different components. Suzhou is big, but it isn't a muscle-flexing, ‘look at me’ type of design. We wanted it to be retiring and introspective.

“In the design, the way we've organised spaces is meant to encourage congregation as well as individual contemplation, so there are quiet places, reclusive areas where people can retire for meditation and introspection.”

Octave has already built the Shanghai Living Room, a prototype and incubator for Sangha.

“We’re new to this and we needed to test drive it, so this was a small litmus test,” said Tsao. “It’s a microcosm, with everything surrounding an internal courtyard. There's a balance between inside and outside spaces.”

The Living Room features mind and body wellness programmes that are both about personal and group life-coaching, as well as children’s early learning courses, yoga, tai chi, boxing, nutritional counselling, and integrated Eastern-Western medicine clinic, and an eatery and standalone cafe that focus on healthy eating, with fresh ingredients from a rooftop farm.

Tsao said he’s interested in eventually bringing his work with Octave to other markets outside of China, and has his eye on upstate New York.

“We’re trying to take Confucianism out of the specific conditions of being a Chinese philosophy and take it to a more universal place,” he said. “These principles can apply to design almost anywhere.”

Tsao & McKown  Octave  Sangha  Living Room  wellness resort  China  Suzhou 
Related stories

Giant Octave Living Destination Retreat set to open in 2017

Architecture practice Tsao & McKown are designing a 189,000sq m (2m sq ft) luxury wellness retreat along Yangcheng Lake outside of Suzhou, China, due to open in Q3 2016. The project is being built through Octave – a development company owned by studio co-founder Calvin Tsao that is dedicated to creating wellness communities. The retreat, called Sangha, will be comprised of residences, hotels and learning spaces. A 69-guestroom hotel offers
Architecture practice Tsao & McKown are designing the 189,000sq m (2m sq ft) luxury wellness retreat along Yangcheng Lake in China / Tsao & McKown
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6913     
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6913     
company profile
Company profile: Fabio Alemanno Design Ltd
Based on ancient knowledge – and confirmed by scientific research – warmth is one of the most important sources of healing and preventative therapy available.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
Profile: Peter Cook: Peter Cook
Peter Cook
"Somehow we’d caught the imagination of people"

As a book about radical architecture collective Archigram is released, we speak to one of the founders about the need for fun

Subsix was built as a nightclub and is now a restaurant
"The Norwegian coast inhabits such beauty"

The world’s most ambitious underwater buildings

CLAD people: Asif Din
Din has worked on a range of sustainability-focused projects
"It’s imperative the architecture profession takes a proactive approach to tackling the realities of climate change"

Perkins+Will’s new sustainability director

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
The Gainsborough Bath Spa was originally built as a hospital. It opened as a spa hotel in 2015
Bakos joined Champalimaud in December 2012. He previously worked for the Rockwell Group
"Construction is one of the largest generators of landfill waste, so it is important to create spaces that transcend trends"

It’s time for a new approach to sustainability, argues Champalimaud’s managing director

Profile: Caroline Bos
"I like art that is against the mainstream, slightly off, with a twist"

UNStudio’s co-founder on the unexpected challenges of designing Australia’s tallest skyscraper

The restaurant at London’s iconic Lloyds Building
Jiricna moved to London for a placement in 1968. She was unable to return to the Czech Republic for two decades
"I look back now and think, how did I have the courage?"

The Czech-born architect on working with Richard Rogers, her friendship with Zaha Hadid and why she turned down Steve Jobs

David Polzin is executive director of design at CannonDesign. He studied at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture
"We were able to create an ‘acoustic shadow’ cutting decibel levels nearly in half"

How to design the perfect community leisure centre 100 13th century pilgrimage The Vietnamese village being created using historic methods

Profile: John Rhodes
John Rhodes
"It’s about the celebration of people coming together. If you can manage that well, a venue can become very special"

HOK has been tasked with designing a truly flexible arena for Valencia. John Rhodes is up for the challenge

The film is set in the fictional African country of Wakanda
"I fell in love with Zaha Hadid"

Black Panther set designer Hannah Beachler

cladkit product news
Tom Dixon Studio to relaunch iconic Pylon chair
Pylon was first designed more than 20 years ago
Lauren Heath-Jones
Originally conceived in his metal workshop in the early 90's, the Pylon chair was Dixon's attempt to create the world's ...
BD Barcelona Design reveals Cristallo by the late Alessandro Mendini
Cristallo was the last design from acclaimed designer and architect Alessandro Mendini
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design Studio BD Barcelona Design has released Cristallo, a limited-edition cabinet designed by the late architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, ...
David Rockwell partners with Jim Thompson for dream-inspired fabric collection
Rockwell has designed 12 multi-use fabrics inspired by dreams with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson
Lauren Heath-Jones
Renowned architect David Rockwell has created a collection of fabrics with long-time collaborator Jim Thompson. Called Dreams, the collection was ...
cladkit product news
Mater partners with Ditzel family to create eco-friendly furniture using reclaimed plastic
The furniture uses plastic from recycled fishing nets
Lauren Heath-Jones
Mater, an ethical design brand based in Denmark, has launched a furniture collection made from plastic reclaimed from the ocean. ...
Water inspires Zaha Hadid Design x Rosenthal collaboration
The collection consists of three smaller collections: Weave, Strip and Lapp. Weave was inspired by 'the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid's sketching hand'
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with porcelain manufacturer Rosenthal to create a new collection of vases. Called the Lapp collection, ...
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
cladkit product news
Alusid's Sequel collection combines craftsmanship and sustainability says founder
The Sequel collection is billed as the 'most waste-efficient and sustainable' on the market
Lauren Heath-Jones
Alusid, a creator of eco-friendly surfaces, has partnered with Parkside to launch the Sequel range, the brand's first collection of ...
Paul Kelley pushes 'technical boundaries' with modular furniture cube system
The system is designed to enable users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, where they are in complete control of the design and function of their furniture
Lauren Heath-Jones
British designer Paul Kelley has created a modular magnetic cube furniture system that enables users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, ...
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates