Contemporary housing design in China usually follows a standard real-estate formula to reduce the developer's marketing risk as much as possible. Consequently, it is hard to find opportunities for architects to develop new housing typologies in such a market-oriented reality, but the Maillen Hotel & Apartments project is an exception.
Located on a terraced hillside in the Shekou district of Shenzhen, the site is roughly 13,200 square meters in size, and has 25,100 square meters of residential units and hotel rooms built on it. The main goal of the design was to create an attractive place to live. So the architects made the building complex gently grow from the landscape and respond to the geography. They designed the buildings around a series of ponds and courtyards to remind residents of the connection between nature and the man-made environment. Bamboo, pines, and plum trees grow in the courtyards, enlivening,views from the apartments. A simple walkway running through the center of the site seems to float on a winding pool of water, bridging a set of connected gardens.
In addition to accommodating the needs of a modern developer to build in an economical way, the architects decided to contextualize their design with the local geography and recall the experience of traditional Chinese gardens in a contemporary manner., To do this, they reinterpretted the spatial organization from traditional China in a way that still allows residents to live in the 21st century. By establishing strong relationships between hill and water, garden and trees, the project reminds people of the fundamental philosophical ideas in traditional Chinese design that connect man and nature. With these concepts in mind, the architects hope to create a new kind of residential complex that integrates traditional landscape theory with contemporary lifestyles. One way they do this is by establishing a continuous, linear set of pathways through the complex.
The project has been very successful in attracting residents who want to feel connected to nature, and international travelers who want a hotel with a strong design sensibility. Instead of consuming the natural environment as most development projects do, the Maillen Hotel & Apartments provides lots of green spaces and sustainable design strategies like maximizing daylight and natural ventilation.