Emei Gaoqiao Village / Super Normal Design
“Back to the countryside.” Gaoqiao village located in the west of Mount Emei Scenic Area is 40 minutes drive to the urban area. Villagers here cultivated farmlands for generations. Owing to unique spring water and fertile land resources, the village is famous for rice and grass. With the expansion of the city and the development of tourism, it breathes life into the peaceful village. Houses have sprung up all over the rice fields with respect for natural aesthetics. Along the terrain and mountain roads, a cross-season journey has been created. Three buildings are scattered in the green fields silently, close to villages, rice fields, and mountain springs. They are the “residence center” at the foot of the mountain, the “field canteen” in the countryside, as well as the “coffee house” on the terraces.
I. Summer visit. Arrival & Return. The residence center is like a “rural hall”, receiving guests from afar. The materials and furniture adopt earth tones, simple and unadorned. The dull mood of urban tourists has swept away suddenly. After eliminating travel fatigues, they are happy and relaxed. The journey begins here.
Return to rural life. Walking along the path to the Northwest for more than 10 minutes, a vineyard comes into view. It is not far from the “field canteen”. The drizzle on the country road creates a refreshing scene of green rice fields and bright roof tiles. After passing the fish pond, wooden bridge, terraces, fruit forest, and simple huts, the field canteen is in the rice fields ahead. The canteen is built on a foundation. The extremely short construction period and design concept of “regenerating former appearance” pose challenges to the team. Selecting building materials and local woodworking technology has become the breakthrough point of space construction.
The concepts of “combination of new and old” and “right place construction” are applied to space design and material selection. During the visits in the early stage of the project, Super Normal noticed that many local houses under renovation or demolition were originally made of wooden materials. After chasing the source, many old timbers that will be used as firewood have been “saved” in the wood market. Time and use traces make these old woods wetter and simpler. After simple grinding and polishing, they are made into plates or furniture in the building. Only through manuscripts or on-site “gestures” can we effectively communicate with local carpenters. Daily design drawings have played hardly any roles. After the communication mixed with dialect and the rough “drawings” drawn directly on the board, the furniture is completely presented consisting of the shape and texture of inner imagination.
II. Winter visit. Mountain fog & stony brook. It’s winter when I visit again. The grains have been harvested. After drying, the straws lay over the fields. Exposing to the sun and rain, they are transformed into organic matter and nutrients. As the seasons change, the energy of land and crops is converted, producing different variations of field scenes. The “coffee house” is located on a slope, surrounded by large and small stones. The overall architectural layout conforms to the natural topography. The selected position is built on stilts with a stream flowing through the bottom. The ancient camphor trees and the houses echo each other. The original terrain, vegetation, cultivated land, and stones are preserved without change.
Along with the coffee house, there is an observation platform. Looking into the distance, Emei’s peak is in the West and the whole field is in the East. Surrounded by beautiful scenery, the architectural design is simple and plain. The materials are selected from recycled old wood, plain wall panels and bamboo plaited articles, which are exactly the same as that of the canteen. Besides a necessary logistics space, the building adopts open exterior walls without boundary setting.
The building is elevated, and the ground becomes the “Fifth Elevation” of indoor space. The floor of the sunken sofa area is made of glass like the outer wall, and the stream flows slowly below it. Around midday, the fog lingers in the mountains. A vast expanse of whiteness stretches to infinity. Waiting sincerely, there are no indications that the fog will disperse, and the sky darkened slowly.