Sugar mill resort in China features underground spa with walls of volcanic rock

by Jane Kitchen | 24 Jul 2017

Hospitality group Alila has opened a second location in China, converting a historic sugar mill into a 117-bedroom “modern retro” resort in Guilin, overlooking the Li River.

Designed by Dong Gong of Vector Architects with interiors by Ju Bin of Horizontal Space Design, the vision of the Alila Yangshuo resort is to integrate the new with the old, and the designers have incorporated elements of the 1960s sugar mill architecture in a bid to bring the story of the historical mill to life. The complex was first opened in the 1920s, and was successful for some years, before economic crisis forced it to close down and become a weapons factory.

The design team and five tradespeople produced more than 60,000 hollow bricks for the resort's exterior walls – inspired by the sugar blocks produced in the 1920s – with the help of a specially-designed machine that formed the material from local sandstone.

“We contemplated how to give the building facade an airy sense of lightness, especially at night, with subtle lighting beaming through the walls,” said Dong Gong. “The building within made of concrete, but visually it possesses the quality of lattice work, with light and air.

“Alila Yangshuo, as in many of our recent projects, is located in a natural site, so I have the opportunity to think of how the environment can impact and influence the architecture and its function. I believe that an architect should be in awe of what is called ‘Tian’ in Chinese, or ‘nature’ in Western culture. This means that when you are on site, you see with your heart and invoke the energy of the site environs to define the form and meaning for your architecture.”

Red volcanic rock was discovered during the construction phase, and was incorporated in the building by being ground and mixed into the terrazzo floors and used to create pottery for the guestrooms. Slabs of local clay with etched motifs are used on the bathroom walls, and clay etchings of local tradesmen in the 1960s are used to decorate the headboards.

The region of Guilin is famous for its limestone hills, tunnels and caves, and Dong Gong’s design concept used caves and passageways built with surprising ups and downs, and some corridors leading to nowhere.

A Spa Alila is housed in an underground location that guests access through a modern spiral entry. Walls and floors are made from underground volcanic rocks, which produced jewelled hues in the cave-like interiors. The spa includes five treatment rooms, and outdoor treatments are also available in the Villa garden.

Other wellness facilities include a dramatic outdoor swimming pool, a gym with cardio theatre and a Kinesis wall.

The resort's interiors incorporate elements of the original sugar mill, and designer Ju Bin said the decision not to be too modern in his approach was an intentional one.

“The Chinese aesthetic concept of ‘beauty is in the old and the turbid’ means that the space must contain a touch of rusticity and must not be too refined,” he said.

After a big opening ceremony 1 July, heavy rainfalls caused the Li River to swell to unprecedented levels and flood area roads, including part of the hotel grounds, delaying the opening until Q1 2018.

Alila's first Chinese property, Alila Anji, opened in 2016. It also plans to open locations in Bintan and Cambodia.

Last year, Alila's parent company, Commune Hotels, merged with Destination Hotels, forming the new Two Roads Hospitality.

Alila  China  Yangshuo  spa  architecture  hotel  travel 
Related stories

Alila bringing ‘Villas’ eco-resort to Cambodian island

Museum, organic farm and comprehensive spa to feature at Alila Villas Bintan

Commune and Destination Hotels to merge

Alila opening contemporary property next to Indonesia Stock Exchange

Stunning 230-year-old hilltop Rajasthan Fort to become Alila heritage resort

Pristine bamboo groves, white-tea plantations and plum tree groves to surround Alila’s first Chinese resort

Alila opens fifth Bali property

Hospitality group Alila has opened a second location in China, converting a historic sugar mill into a 117-bedroom “modern retro” resort in Guilin, overlooking the Li River. Designed by Dong Gong of Vector Architects with interiors by Ju Bin of Horizontal Space Design, the vision of the Alila Yangshuo resort is to integrate the new with the old, and the designers have incorporated elements of the 1960s sugar mill architecture
CLD,SAB,CAS,HHR,HOT,ARC,DES
'When you are on site, you see with your heart and invoke the energy of the site environs,' says architect Dong Gong
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7206     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7206     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Alliance Leisure Services Ltd
The company’s core business is the provision of facility development and support for local authorities, educational establishments and leisure trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer.
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
Former track and field athlete Phillip Mills is the founder and CEO of Les Mills
"We’ve designed the space so that the atmosphere is intimate"

Les Mills’ new studio spaces at its iconic Auckland City Gym showcase a trend away from masculine ‘grunty’ gyms to something altogether different

There is a pool and spa complex on the ground floor
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

features
Interview: Elizabeth de Portzamparc
Elizabeth de Portzamparc
"We need to stop the destruction of our world through predatory practices. We need to think of the future"

The architect behind Nimes’ Musée de la Romanité on designing to counter loneliness and the need for more cultural buildings

Hospitality: High standards
"We tried to take over in a friendly way"

The Standard’s first London hotel is bold, fun and full of surprising touches

Hotel de la Ville has 104 rooms and suites, inspired by Rome’s role in the era of the Grand Tour
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

features
Scott Lee became president of SB Architects in 2000. Tracy Lee founded TLee Spas in 2015
"We design to connect the guest to the place, positioning people at the centre of the design"

Architect Scott Lee and spa consultant Tracey Lee on marrying the worlds of design and wellness in a series of interesting projects

The Louvre Conservation Centre will open in October
Stephen Barrett (left) 
and John McElgunn (right) were both made partners at RSHP in 2016
"Leisure space – public space – is at the very root of democracy, and architecture is about democracy"

As RSHP completes its latest cultural project, we speak to two of its partners about why Richard Rogers isn’t leaving his succession to chance

The new building forms the backbone of the masterplan developed by DCA in 1999
Alexander Schwarz
"Our aim was to create a place celebrating public space and accessibility"

The opening of the James-Simon- Galerie on Berlin’s Museum Island completes two decades of work for David Chipperfield Architects. The lead designer talks us through the building

cladkit product news
Pelle DVN Table inspired by traditional Japanese carpentry
The DVN Table was created using Japanese joinery techniques
Lauren Heath-Jones
Jean and Oliver Pelle, the husband and wife team behind New York-based design studio Pelle, have created the DVN Table, ...
Canteen collection combines nostalgia with modern aesthetics
The Canteen collection was inspired by post-war British design techniques
Lauren Heath-Jones
Very Good & Proper (VG&P), a British furniture brand, has curated a new dining collection that combines traditional woodworking techniques ...
John Pomp Studios expands Tidal collection
The Eclipse Pendant light was inspired by the lunar eclipse
Lauren Heath-Jones
John Pomp Studios, a design practice based in Philadelphia in the US, has expanded its Tidal collection to include five ...
cladkit product news
Tino Seubert x Theodora Alfredsdottir lighting collection inspired by mid-century furniture making traditions
The Corrugation Lights were inspired by midcentury and post-war furniture making techniques
London-based designers Tino Seubert and Theodora Alfredsdottir have teamed up to create Corrugation Lights, a lighting collection inspired by midcentury ...
nea studio showcase seaweed's design potential with hand-crafted algae lamps
The seaweed lamps were inspired by Edwards Anker's ethos of incorporating local and organic materials in her designs to give them a sense of place
Lauren Heath-Jones
Nina Edwards Anker, a Brooklyn-based designer and founder of architecture and design practice nea studio, has created a new collection ...
Space Popular creates video installation for the Gwangmyeongmun Gate in South Korea
Gate of Bright Lights was designed to show visitors how screens and digital interfaces have replaced physical objects the gateway between us and the rest of the world.
Lauren Heath-Jones
Multidisciplinary design firm Space Popular has created a video installation for the Gwangmyeongmun Gate at the Deoksugung Palace in Seoul, ...
cladkit product news
Tom Dixon Rock collection inspired by Dixon's travels to India
The Rock collection is made with green marble and was inspired by Tom Dixon's travels to India
Lauren Heath-Jones
British designer studio, Tom Dixon Studio has launched a new collection of marble sculptures inspired by his frequent trips to ...
Arlon Graphics debuts architectural collection
Arlon's architectural range is aimed at interior designers looking for innovative and affordable renovation solutions
Lauren Heath-Jones
Arlon Graphics, a plastic and vinyl manufacturer based in The Netherlands, has launched a range of architectural graphic vinyl films ...
ZHD'S MEW Coffee Table explores relationship between surface and structure
The MEW Coffee Table is described as an investigation into the relationship between surface and structure
Lauren Heath-Jones
Zaha Hadid Design has partnered with Italian furniture design firm Sawaya & Moroni to create the Mew Coffee Table. The ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates