Ten buildings in China that interact with dramatic landscapes


After Junya Ishigami unveiled a kilometre-long art museum that emerges from an artificial lake, Dezeen rounds up 10 recent Chinese architecture projects that play with arresting landscapes.

Japanese architect Ishigami said he wanted his project to address a tendency for buildings in China to be “closed off” from their environment.

But he is not the first to explore these themes in the country. Over the past few years, multiple architecture projects in China have sought to enter a dialogue with their surroundings to striking effect, often as part of initiatives to encourage tourism in rural areas.

Read on for 10 examples from Dezeen’s archives:


Zaishui Art Museum in China
Photo by Arch-exist

Zaishui Art Museum, Shandong, by Junya Ishigami

The latest in a series of mind-bending projects by Ishigami, the Zaishui Art Museum is a kilometre long, with a gently undulating concrete roof topping parallel columns planted in the bottom of an artificial lake.

Glass panelling is fitted between the columns, with carefully placed gaps that allow water to flow into the building and submerge parts of the floor to create the impression that the building has risen from the water.

Find out more about Zaishui Art Museum ›


Cloud Tea House by Plat Asia in Huzhou China
Photo by Yixinjia

Cloud Tea Room, Zhejiang, by Plat Asia

Another recent Chinese project that seeks to blur the boundary between architecture and landscape is this teahouse for a resort in Huzhou by Beijing studio Plat Asia.

The modest building is located on a secluded hillside of tea fields, within an installation of steel poles that periodically release water vapour to make visitors feel as if they’re among the clouds.

Find out more about Cloud Tea Room ›


Water Drop Library in Shuangyue Bay, China, by 3andwich Design
Photo by Jin Weiqi

Water Drop Library, Guangdong, by 3andwich Design

Set on a hillside above Shuangyue Bay, the circular Water Drop Library is topped with a pool overlooking the sea.

Chinese studio 3andwich Design said it wanted the library to have a “poetic tension”, arising from the combination of its bold geometric forms and its intimacy with the natural landscape.

Find out more about Water Drop Library ›


Jiunvfeng Study, a mountainside visitor centre
Photo by ZY Studio

Jiunvfeng Study, Shandong, by Gad Line+ Studio

Mount Tai, China’s most famous sacred mountain, has been climbed by worshippers for 3,000 years.

According to Gad Line+ Studio, this visitors’ centre on the mountainside was intended to resemble “a floating cloud”, with curving glass walls and a white membrane stretching over the lightweight steel rooftop.

Find out more about Jiunvfeng Study ›


A half domed volume emerges from a pool of water
Photo courtesy of Syn Architects

The Hometown Moon, Shandong, by Syn Architects

Also on Mount Tai, a road leads down from Jiunvfeng Study through the mountain and ends with a ceremonial hall designed by Syn Architects to resemble “a moon that never sets”.

A giant semicircular window sits on the edge of a pool of water, reflecting on it when illuminated to create the shape of a full moon.

Find out more about The Hometown Moon ›


Aerial view of bridge over Yuandang Lake
Photo by Zhu Runzi

Yuandang Bridge, Shanghai, by Brearley Architects + Urbanists

Brearley Architects + Urbanists weaved a 586-metre bridge across Shanghai’s Yuandang Lake with the intention of blending architecture, infrastructure and landscape.

The crossing connects two areas of wetland and features a planted central area as well as seating, play spaces and a sculptural pavilion.

Find out more about Yuandang Bridge ›


Cliff Cafe and Tower House by Trace Architecture Office
Photo by Kejia Mei

Cliff Cafe, Shandong, Trace Architecture Office

The appropriately named Cliff Cafe, by Beijing studio Trace Architecture Office, sits perched atop a sheer drop on Jiming Island.

It is embedded into the rock face and its concrete structure was left exposed to give patrons the feeling of entering part of the landscape as they descend the rooftop staircase.

Find out more about Cliff Cafe ›


Quarry performance venue
Photo by Wang Ziling

Jinyun Quarries, Zhejiang, by DnA_Design and Architecture

Chinese studio DnA_Design and Architecture sought to work closely with a man-made landscape with this series of cultural spaces at an abandoned stone quarry.

Through light-touch insertions into the hand-excavated pits, it created a library, a performance venue and a space for gatherings.

Find out more about Jinyun Quarries ›


Chapel of Sound was designed to look like a rock
Photo by Jonathan Leijonhufvud

The Chapel of Sound, Beijing, by Open Architecture

The Chapel of Sound is a monolithic semi-open-air concert hall nestled in a valley next to ruins of the Great Wall of China.

Designed by Beijing-based studio Open Architecture, it is built entirely from concrete that has been enriched with an aggregate made from local stone to give it the appearance of a giant boulder that has always been part of the landscape.

Find out more about The Chapel of Sound ›


Exterior of Service Center of the Desert Galaxy Camp
Photo by Jin Weiqi

Treasure Box in the Desert, Ningxia, by 3andwich

Another project by 3andwich Design, this building in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is intended to draw on the mythology of the desert.

Housing facilities for a nearby campsite, it is covered in a weathered-steel shell to help create the sense that it has been dug out from beneath the sand.

Find out more about Treasure Box in the Desert ›



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