Capsule Hotel and Bookstore in Village Qinglongwu
Architect’s firm: Atelier tao+c
Design team: Tao Liu, Chunyan Cai, Guoxiong Liu, Lihui Han
Location: Tonglu, Zhejiang Province, China
Completion Date: OCT 2019
GFA: 232 sqm
Photographer: Su Sheng Liang
The site is an old house of wood structure and mud walls in the village Qinglongwu, facing the green mountains east side. The architect regenerated this 232sqm building by inserting bedrooms and bamboo bookshelves and transformed it to a capsule hotel that can accommodate 20 people, along with a community library into the 7.2-meter high two-stories space.
To convert an old house to a mix-use space with capsule hotel and library, the biggest challenge to the architects, is to ensure the privacy of the accommodation area while giving openness and continuity to the public areas within such a compact space.
After removing the original floors and partition walls, the architect opened the ground floor for library and public spaces, placed two independent “floating” structure above, which will be used separately for male and female guests equipped with 10 uniformed capsule rooms and one bathroom for each. Instead of a regular floor height, the architect divided the floating mass by 1.35 meters, a height that can only allow people to sit or to lie low, then split and staggered the floor slabs to create an unconventional three-floor space with interesting perspectives, and formed a few “double-height” spaces in the accommodation areas, so the hotel guests can still find a place to stand and to walk through, it is also where people’s point of sight is above the floor height. The split and stacked floors are connected by thin metal staircases, with only 9 steps to reach another level, formed a zigzagging route with quick turns, similar to the paths in the mountains where moments of people’s meandering, ascending, stopping, reading, snooping and resting in the capsules are revealed from time to time.
The idea of “buildings inside the building” blurs the boundaries of various spaces and formed a balance between the privacy of the “floating” accommodation area and the openness of the public space on the ground floor. However, when you are looking at the front of the two “buildings” from the entrance hall, you will find a clear cross-section relationship between the staggering floor slabs, while the capsules on the other sides of masses are aligned with the repeated modular compartments of the bookshelf constructed from local bamboo.
The exterior renovation is an extension as well as a reflection on the reorganization of the interior spaces. Based on the vertical programming of the capsule rooms, the restrained openings on the exterior wall to maintain the original simplicity of the building. Given the amazing natural landscape at the east end of the building, the architect cut the whole gable wall on this side and embedded a transparent structure of wooden frames and corrugated polycarbonate panels, introducing the green of the mountains and forests into the interior. The openings in the ceiling also brings rich natural lights into the interior spaces.