Beijing-based Vector Architects recently transformed an abandoned sugar mill located deep in the mountainous region of Guangxi into the stunning Alila Yangshuo hotel. The architects retained and repurposed much of the sprawling 1960s complex.
The old sugar refinery was built in a remote area tucked into the mountainous Guangxi region, but had been abandoned for years. The original complex was comprised of a cluster of buildings that ran alongside an elongated truss used for loading sugar cane onto boats. From the onset of the project, the architects wanted to retain as much of the sugar mill’s original character as possible by repurposing the existing structures and adding new buildings that would enhance the existing industrial architecture.
To create a contemporary addition to the former industrial complex, the architects added gabled masonry structures to the original buildings, strategically blending the old with the new. The main building now houses the hotel’s reception, a cafe, a bar, a multi-use hall, a gallery and a library.
At the heart of the new hotel is a beautiful reflecting pond and sunken plaza that was formerly the sugar mill’s loading area. A series of new blocks with gabled roofs were built around the mill to create the guest rooms. Throughout the design, hollow concrete blocks and board-clad concrete with perforated surfaces pay homage to the original construction.
“In order to create a sense of consistency, instead of simply copying the old materiality and texture, we try to seek this nuance where we use more contemporary materials and construction methods while retaining the tinge and masonry structure of the old.” explained the architects. “We kept the profile of the new buildings as simple as possible to avoid unnecessary distraction to the old sugar mill caused by overly expressive geometry.”
People come to the region to enjoy the spectacular scenery, so the layout of the guest rooms is focused on communing with nature. A large building called the Sugar House Retreat features luxury rooms with private balconies that offer stunning views of the mountains. The Garden Townhouse has suites that face the ponds or ground floor suites that look over a serene bamboo garden. The hotel’s social spaces and guest rooms were designed by Ju Bin of Horizontal Space Design to further connect the new space with its industrial roots.
Surrounding the guest rooms and winding through the complex is a series of paths that were designed to be open-air lobbies – either for private reflection or socializing. The woodsy spaces were inspired by the caves that are found in the surrounding mountain range.
Images via Alila Yangshuo Hotel