The Water House, nestled at the base of Snow Mountain in Lijiang, China, is a simple home that celebrates the beauty of the nature surrounding it. Designed by Llixiaodong Atelier, the private residence was largely constructed with locally sourced materials by local tradesman to encourage their art and disciplines. Stone walls, pools of water, wooden screens, and clay roof tiles form the basis of the home, which blends into nature and makes the most of the area's climate.
The old town of Lijiang was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site back in 1997 and is known for its orderly system of waterways and bridges. Cobblestone streets and over 350 bridges connect the city, which is woven with canals and waterways. In keeping with the traditions of the area, Llixiaodong designed a home that “synthesises traditional forms and techniques to make a contemporary building that resonates with place and history. and the surrounding landscape.” The home is composed of a series of interlocking and contemplative courtyards. Strong features like the stone walls and the reflective pools separate it physically from the outside world for privacy, but views from inside open up to visually connect it with its surroundings.
Emphasis of the design was on local-texture and non-decorative detailing to make the house part of the background rather than the focus. Traditional forms are referenced in the home’s volumes, but have a distinctly contemporary feel. Inside, furnishings and decor are kept to a minimum to better appreciate the nature outside. Bamboo planted in the central courtyard serves as the home’s green heart and the reflective pools have a cooling and calming effect on the space.
The home’s main structure was built using steel, which was contracted out to an experienced team, but Llixiaodong hired local construction workers for the rest of the home as a way of encouraging some of the traditional trades and crafts. Local materials and local tradesman were sourced as a way to send a “clear message of regional engagement with architecture practice in the local context.”
Images ©Llixiaodong Atelier