David Chipperfield Architects have inserted a cluster of stone villas along the waters of the ancient Xixi Wetland in Hangzhou, China. Raised on plinths, the Xixi Wetland Estate’s 20 houses appear to float on water and are surrounded by aquatic flora on three sides. The homes are connected by pedestrian bridges, while vehicular circulation and parking is tucked underground to preserve landscape views.
Xixi Wetland Estate’s built environment is clad in muted blocks of grey stone that make the monolithic apartments recede into the landscape, keeping the focus on the verdant aquatic plantings and water. The 20 apartments are connected by a pedestrian stone walkway flanked with greenery to soften the hard edges. “The apartment buildings are surrounded by a water garden, which, as a reference to the wetland park, is a mostly wild landscape,” write the architects. “In contrast to these green surroundings, the buildings appear as dark stone volumes embedded in the water garden.”
Unlike its muted facade, the interior features mostly all-white walls and polished white floors. Multiple floor-to-ceiling windows overlook views of the wetland and flood the interior with natural light. “The omnipresent relationship between landscape, architecture, and water is key to the atmosphere in Xixi,” write the architects.
Images via David Chipperfield Architects, © Simon Menges