Winner – Award of Excellence in the 2020 WLA Awards for the Built Residential category
This project is located in Zhengzhou, China, which is a representative area of the Loess Plateau. The Loess Plateau is the birthplace of Chinese civilization. Local residents took advantage of the loess to build a unique cave dwelling as their house, gathering space, and storage space. The plot is surrounded by old-growth forest and a deep loess canyon. With an abundance of abandoned cave dwellings remained on site, the landform and the appearance of the site are very representative of the Loess Landscape. Being there, it will bring you a strong sense of nature and the Loess Culture sprit.
Designers strived to balance the historical elements remained on-site and contemporary lifestyles. We additionally considered how to make our site in line with its natural environment. We preserved plentiful existing elements, innovated them while simultaneously reserving the value of its identity, and utilized a number of traditional and local design elements, including the Loess wall, stonewalls, cave dwellings, persimmon trees, clay pots, and stone mills.
Dwelling Caves, as a valuable historical heritage, have recorded the civilization of the old era and represents the identity of local residents and their culture. In the Agriculture era, people lived in cave dwellings in this area for generations. It was a way they developed to live in nature. Nowadays, people no longer exist in the cave dwellings, but they still have a strong affection to the style that cave dwellings and Loess land present. We aimed to preserve and innovate this kind of relics in a way that accommodates contemporary lifestyles . The site preserved most of the existing cave dwellings and innovated them for recreational purposes. For instance, One Cave Dwellings were converted into a counsel ring with a circled stone bench and a centered water feature, which connect to the canals across the whole backyard.
There are two levels on the existing site. In order to preserve the cave dwellings on the lower level and minimize the grading works, we did not make too many changes to the existing terrains. We placed two stairs to strengthen the connection between the upper house level and the lower backyard level. Corten steel and traditional ledger stones collected locally were used to build the stairs. The material choices were carefully considered to show respect for the local culture and the Loess land.
To preserve the existing four persimmon trees on the upper-level site, the designer overcame numerous technical issues. In the meanwhile, we added a recreational and gathering space under existing trees. The design elements utilized, such as wooden seats, local stone benches, and outdoor fire pits, present a feeling of tranquility.
TOPO Design Group
Lead Designer：ＣK Chuang
Designers：Yang Lin, Chunyan Zhang,Sijie Zheng
Chongqing Donehome Landscape Architecture Planning Design Co.,Ltd
Project Statement and Narrative: Zhen Zhang
Detailed Design and Construction Documents：Yaqin Qu , Yile Chai, Yu Zhang, Xue Zhang, Shenxiong He, Ruipeng Li , Weina Tao
Construction On-site Management：Yile Chai
Photography： RIYE Photography