From Ming to modern at Zhouzhuang's Blossom Hill

by Virginia Lau on Oct 31, 2012 in Interiors
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Under the watchful eye of Shanghai-based Dariel Studio, four 19th century Ming-style dwellings in Zhouzhuang have metamorphosed into the Blossom Hill boutique hotel

Built in the 19th century, the buildings served as the living quarters and office for three brothers. Later, they were divided into four parts: a museum, a tea house, a guesthouse and a structure which eventually fell into disuse. To restore their original spatial unity while also preserving their architectural heritage, Shanghai-based Dariel Studio spent close to six months repairing and altering the buildings – adjusting the ground level, reinforcing the main beams, preserving the old wooden window frames and layout of the space, and taking down all the walls to combine the four buildings into one.

Thomas Dariel, CEO and design director of Dariel Studio, developed the concept of ‘one sensory travel through the seasons’, taking inspiration from the 24 seasons of the Chinese traditional solar calendar. “In ancient China, the solar year is divided into 24 terms, according to traditional farming habits, with each term corresponding to the sun’s particular position,” he explains. “The concept also matches with the atmosphere of Zhouzhuang, which is quiet and traditional. And it can represent our design style – mixing Chinese and western culture.”

Completed in May this year, Blossom Hill offers a distinct experience through the strategic use of space and light, integration of local culture and traditions, choice of materials, and love of arts and crafts. “[The client] asked us to create a boutique hotel that embodies both the picturesque scenery and the history of Zhouzhuang,” says Dariel. “These qualities combined portray the same elegant leisure-lifestyle experience that has endured through the ages in this ancient town, in addition to exhibiting its identity and history.”