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Weaving a future from the past

By Wang Qian/Yang Jun | China Daily| Updated: 2021-05-14 Print


The community center in Guizhou's Dali village is built in the local, traditional style.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Hotel building

After building the community center, Chou, in one of those moments that seemed ordained by destiny, got invited to design and build a hotel in Dali village.

In 2015, Zhang Shiba, who is from Guiyang, Guizhou province, decided he wanted to live a different life and closed his advertisement company in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. When he entered Dali village, he thought that it was like "a place in a fairy tale". After traveling to Dali three times to make sure, he decided to move there and open a hotel.

Living in Dali for about two years, he witnessed the completion of the community center and decided to invite Chou to design his second hotel, known as the Well House, which is located above an old well.

Perched on the mountainside high up in the village and using local cedarwood and bricks, the hotel attempts to maintain the local aesthetic so as not to disturb the skyline."Through the use of energy-efficient heating and weatherproofing materials, the building is built without air conditioners," Chou says.

The boutique hotel was a nominee for Building of the Year 2021 in the Hospitality Architecture section of US-based industry news portal ArchDaily.

According to ArchDaily, it is a new boutique hotel that aims to situate itself contextually in the simple and austere lifestyle of the village. It adds that the designers have found ways to update the traditional methods of building with contemporary amenities and evolved design without losing the integrity that makes Dali what it is.

"As the village finds a bridge to the future and looks to tourism and exchange to do so, the hope is that the Well House presents thoughtful solutions for merging the old with the new," the Atlas Studio says.

For Chou, the hotel can bring more tourists to the village and in turn, they can come to the community center to learn about the textile craft, which will set up a sustainable business chain for Dali.

Li Kuanghan, director of the China Heritage Program at Global Heritage Fund, says that the method of preserving Dali village is a good example for rural heritage protection.

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