In front of the nature, a sense of self abasement actually appears. There are always moments in the life: I hope that in a safe container, I can face the sky, face the wind and rain, and be frank about the self abasement.
From the beginning of the design to the completion, during each of the hours of the journey to the site, the scenery along the way is relaxing and at the same time increasing the self-reflection mood. In the moment when you arrive and observe the distant mountains and the fields in that static state, "Nature" unfolds here so confidently, calmly and silently. Thinking of the seemingly complex but actually simple problems that I am concerned about, I always have a strong feeling of surrendering myself to the heaven and the earth.
Starting in 2018, the RENGARCH designed a residential building in Housuotun Village, surrounded by mountains in Yanqing district of Beijing. The site plan included a chapel, a tower of childhood and an accommodation area. Regarded as different time points, the chapel for adults and the tower of childhood coexist on the same space line, metaphorizing the growing up of human being and bringing a unique memory to the local village.
There is a small hill which commands an overall view of the village, as the chapel inserts into layers of grey tiles on the rooftop like a chimney. The chapel, pointed by the arc wall and regarded as the center of the overall layout, is actually an architecture inclining from north to south, small on top and big on bottom. With a hole towards south on the top opening a channel, sunlight enters the inner space from top to bottom. Wherever sunshine can reach, so does the rainwater, which slowly slides down along the hogging-up wall, gathers at the bottom and flows out. The upper and lower openings form an internal circulation and become a passage for wind. Visitors can contemplate, meditate or lookup to the sky and arrive at the outdoor platform through a low door. The erected outdoor wall extends the space atmosphere and a lifted platform marks the end after a turn, leading your eyes to the east. Light, rain, and wind seem to be amplified in a tightly closed space container. The greater sound of rain and wind in the senses, the light and shadow flowing from day to night, make people feel nature, as the article said at the beginning: facing nature, facing yourself.
Different from the experience of sunlight and rainwater in the chapel, Tower of Childhood is more like the start point of a story which located in front of the east entrance. Like a children's slide, the tower can be experienced up and down. Below the outdoor stair is a sand pit allowing kids to play around. Inside the tower, colorfully painted, is a small world where kids can climb willfully. Spatial scale is intentionally built for children and the design of rounded window provides a channel to look into the exterior world.
There is always a clue running through the design long before human constructions. Here before we started, a prune tree, which grew in the courtyard and carried the whole family’s memory, naturally becomes the initial clue of our design. In the site planning, the arc wall around the prune tree horizontally deployed the spatial layout on the ground and the steps of arcuate stair along the wall developed the vertical circulation.
The accommodation area contains seven guest rooms with a public area. Three chimneys in the middle stick out from the roof and shape the gradually rising-up spaces, providing places to look far. On the second floor, two rooms on the east share a terrace where guests can step in along the arc wall. Meanwhile, they can arrive at the top-most roof terrace after a steel stair and complete the dialogue to the mountain.
In a literary work, as the start and end set in time and space, it may be a story narrated in chronological or reverse chronological order with a linear or non-linear manner, producing many unspeakable containing. Architecture, similarly, has such a metaphor.
Think of the Chapel as the "end point" and the Tower of Childhood as the "starting point". The metaphors about start and end on timeline simultaneously exist on the spatial line. At this point, the co-existence made them reciprocal causation—the mutual caring between the previous and subsequent stages of life.
With the booming of consumerism, it may also brings us a depressed mood. This is the reason why more and more people are making their way to countryside and nature— they are seeking for some origins. Things like sunlight, rainwater, wind, inner self and those physical joy in the childhood from the bottom heart are easily ignored, but at the end, these are the most touching beings the world could have.