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  • Ntouma Maria


An old rammed earth building in the middle of the Chinese village of Qinglongwu has been converted by Atelier Tao+C into a boutique hotel and library. Surrounded by verdant mountains, the picturesque structure accommodates 20 guests, with the architects endeavouring to ensure privacy in the accommodations while making the public areas feel open. Triple-height glazed extension projects form the east of the structure, its gable roof formation continued with a timber framework and corrugated plastic panels. This fills the lobby and public reading area with light, culminating in a stepped, semi-circular sunken pit in which visitors can relax with a book. Full height shelves made from the local bamboo line the walls and are stacked with books belonging to both the library and bookstore. After removing all original floors and partition walls, Atelier Tao+C added three staggered floors with 20 capsule bedrooms split according to male and female guests, with two communal bathrooms. The bedrooms are only tall enough to sit or lie down, while other communal areas of the staggered accommodation floors are double height to allow for standing, walking, and views to the open lobby space.

“The staggering platforms are intertwined with multiple layers of visual connections, sounds and eye contacts through the two masses, creating a space of floating senses,”

said the design team. Each split and stacked floor is connected by a thin metal staircase, each with only nine steps, forming a zig-zagging route between levels. The full height bookshelves were designed to complement the staircases in creating a series of nooks for people to stop and read. Windows in each capsule bedroom were designed to frame a specific section of the bookshelf, creating views across the interior.

“It is in fact quite similar to the paths in the mountains where moments of people’s meandering, ascending, stopping, reading, snooping and resting in the capsules are revealed from time to time,”

says Atelier Tao+C. Changes to the building’s exterior were designed to reflect the new interior, with small timber-framed windows added to the rammed earth façade. Likewise, the grey brick used to pave the lobby floor references the ancient cobblestone embedded into the exterior façade. Skylights allow light to further penetrate the structure.

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