Owner/Hotel operator: Artyzen Hospitality Group
Architectural design: Ettore Sottsass, Sottsass Associati
Interior design: Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA)
Lighting Consultant: Illuminate Lighting Design
Furniture supplier: Gold Phoenix Furniture Group
Stonework: Jiangsu Yuemei Stone
Woodwork: Jiangsu Aiga Wood Industry
Photo credits: Will Pryce
In Nanjing, capital of the eastern province of Jiangsu, surrounded by the Lao Shan National Forest Park and arranged around a lake, the CIPEA (China International Practical Exhibition of Architecture) is an ambitious complex of 22 buildings commissioned in the early 2000s to a number of internationally acclaimed architects and creative talents, both Chinese and foreign. Big names like Steven Holl, Arata Isozaki, Wang Shu, David Adjaye, Ai Weiwei, Zhanq Lei, Odile Decq; lively, evolving works, arranged in the space of an architectural field whose surreal schema stubbornly defies the stereotype of a dystopian fate.
One of the structures, belonging to the cultural complex of the Sifang Art Collective, is the new hotel developed by HBA inside one of the last works of architecture designed by Ettore Sottsass: a daring, enveloping structure that incorporates public and private spaces, where the recognizable, powerful language inherited from the Italian designer echoes delicately in the geometry of the volumes, the twisting corridors of the large size, the long and circular walls that embrace the rooms, creating internal gardens, and in the chromatic thrusts nimbly diluted in the areas for rest and wellness.
Several walls, for example, are divided into an irregular grid of forms, while their consistency is that of warm white stucco. The floors gain rhythm from woolen carpets that reproduce geometric motifs and cuts, and even the minimal design of the carpeting is not immune to the incursions of polygons, though they are simple and monochromatic. The furnishings are an eclectic blend of brash contemporary pieces, whose tones range from the brightest colors to the grays, and the warmer hues of wood, while the accessories are inserted to decorate the spaces, contributing to an intentional sensation of general randomness.
The recreational center created by Sottsass now contains 22 guestrooms, from 43 to 79 square meters, a wellness center with indoor pool, a fitness room and a bar placed on a large platform, visually in tune with nature on every side. In the rooms the accent is on a luminous atmosphere – already aided by architecture conceived to be “corrupted” by light – and on spatial performance thanks to wardrobes, bathrooms (some with freestanding tubs) and the exceptional panoramic views of the lush surrounding landscape.