MDO were honoured to be offered the chance to design the interior for a unique piece of architecture situated in the beautiful Liangzhu area, in the northwestern outskirts of Hangzhou.
As designers we are interested in relationships and contrasts; architecture and interior, the rough and the smooth, dark and light, strong and the delicate. Between each is a transition, and opportunity to create an emotion.
THE ENTRANCE HALL
For us, the Sales Gallery represents one of these transitions. It is a gateway that visitors encounter on their journey to discover the development. This sense of arrival became our starting point for the entrance hall. A tall processional space which would fill the visitors with a sense of awe and anticipation. A place where we could set the tone and express the developments commitment to refinement and quality.
We designed a series of folding arches (inspired by painting of traditional Chinese roofs by Wu Guangzhong) which responds to the rhythm of the architectural façade. Side lit from the south, the rhythm is enhanced by a series of columns clad in contrasting dark hairline metal and light textured limestone. Each bay allows a glimpse view through a layered lacquer screen to the inside.
The central hall is divided into 2 parts. The first is the model area, which is flanked by a long bar clad in bush-hammered stone, and a delicate forest of dark metal rods. The composition of the space is formal, with a strong central axis which leads on to the 2nd consultation area, and the external water feature.
One challenged we faced was that the entrance hall is a double height space, with a very impressive scale. When you come into the model hall the ceiling drops to half the height. How to keep the energy of the design?
Our solution was to continue the theme of folding roofs, but on a much greater scale. We created a direction fold inspired by water ripples which flows to the outside. As it reaches the consultation area the fold becomes symmetrical so that it creates the form of a traditional roof above the seating. This establishes a more comfortable and intimate setting above the consultation area.
We designed custom built sofa and seating which responds to the views of the landscape. When you sit with your back to the wall, the seating is high backed and enclosing. Whereas where the seating faces the landscape the sofas are lower to allow all guests views of the garden and landscape.
This idea of capturing views is something MDO are very interested in. We see each transition as an opportunity to frame a view, as if to create a painting. This is enriched by the use of screens which allow partial views. The visitor gets a glimpse or a sense of what is beyond, encouraging them to explode further. From the entrance hall lacquered screens permit views in and out, established these relationships between spaces, between inside and out.
In the centre of the main hall a framed garden wrapped in lacquered screens brings the landscape into the building, and creates an element which is both a feature and means to organize and layer space.
RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR
MDO are interested in these relationships because the two founders are both architects who come from a background where space, form and light are very important. We enjoy how interior and architecture interact, how one can inform and improve the other. The idea of a blur between inside and outside, where we can live in both can only be achieved with a clear understanding of architecture and interior.
When we design we are always considering how the form, material and scale work inside to out to create a balance. We look every detail, the setting out of stone, the alignment with architectural columns, window frame and cladding, to the physical properties of connecting materials. Can each relationship strengthen the experience that the visitor feels as they move through the building?
This interest continues through to the study of lighting, natural and artificial. In the entrance hall we imagined the columns to behave as a sundial, the shadows constantly changing and drawing the hours of the day across the floor. Inside we used indirect light to wash the walls and create gentle textured shadows playing through the screens which line the light stone walls.