Nanjing Garden Expo Voco Hotel is located in Nanjing Garden Expo park in the Tangshan tourist area in a suburb of Nanjing city, and this Expo park area shall potentially become a major resort destination for Nanjing, Shanghai, and other cities after the Garden Expo closes. Many 5-star hotels are planned on-site, and seven hotels have opened in 2021 and 2022. Voco Hotel is one of them, a new brand launched by IHG Group worldwide in 2018. The brand is committed to bringing guests interesting, comfortable and pleasant experiences. Each Voco hotel has its own character inspired by its location, and all feature playful, personal touches
The master planning and architectural design were undertaken by three Chinese architecture studios from Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing; therefore, different character buildings stand side by side in one project. In the overall planning, the architects respect the original rural village layout, space composition and materials to create buildings close to the life and environment of the local area. The architecture is a simple and natural rural style with the theme of de-urbanization, countryside and nature, which is consistent with the natural scenery of Tangshan.
The hotel’s advantage is all buildings are low-rise detached villa type and ground floor rooms and suites equipped with private gardens and outdoor hot springs. This makes the hotel different from other competing nearby hotels and gives guests a feeling of natural tranquillity.
Following this concept and direction, our landscape design theme is also set as ‘borderless’, ‘style less’, and ‘de-urbanization’ to create activity-based outdoor spaces with simplicity, nature and a variety of rural scenes.
In addition, keywords of the Voco brand -“Come together”, “Social”, “Shareable” and “Different” inspired us to define and design our landscape.
We planned and plotted many outdoor activity places where people to meet, gather, communicate and spend naturally to make guests feel as if they relax with their old friends in their hometown.
To achieve these purposes, we designed feature outdoor places like the water court, green court and so on. Guests can gather in these places by coincidence to enjoy various natural scenery and hotel activities. They also shall enjoy reading, chatting, taking coffee and tea, and even meditation in each court with a nostalgic and warm mood.
When we started designing, we focused on guests’ arrival experience and its’ sequences.
One of the biggest problems at the entrance is a restaurant street on the opposite side of the municipal driveway that is located on a higher hill side and faces our hotel front. From the resort’s arrival point of view, these prominent buildings should be hidden from guests’ view to create more privacy and an isolated atmosphere from the outside.
The main entrance was originally planned just in front of the lobby building; however, we proposed to relocate the entrance to the east and have a longer arrival distance and a green buffer area for better sequences to raise the guests’ expectation step by step. Feature trees and stone welcome guests at the drop-off and lead them to the landscape corridor. Walking through the corridor, arrival guests will encounter a small but sophisticated garden and calm water feature along the way to the reception. This corridor and green buffer help to hide the adjacent restaurant street from the guest view.
The next challenge was how to coordinate the different types of buildings that face each other on the main pathway through the landscape. After checking in, all guests pass through this main pathway on foot or by cart, then reach smaller paths to their room. We decided to have the various green and lush bamboo to alleviate the different building facades on the main pathway, then stepping into the smaller pathways, various landscapes such as the sound of a water stream or swaying bamboo or colorful seasonal flowers lead the guests to the rooms.
At last, the existing farmland can be viewed from the west of the hotel. This agricultural setting also gives the hotel a very signature scene. The hotel guests can freely pick vegetables or attend and experience the hotel’s farming programs and events as well.
Nanjing Garden Expo Voco Hotel
Location: Garden Expo Park Jiangning District, Nanjing city
Landscape architect: TOA Landscape Architecture
Design year: 2020
Year Built: 2022
Image Credits: TOA Landscape Architecture