Rehabilitación Tres Villas, China


Technical data:

Architect: Fernando Menis

Collaborator: Jianke Architectural Design Institute on Guangdong Province

Location: Lijiang Ancient Town Lakefront International Golf club, Lijiang, China

Use: Private club and accommodation

Structure: Concrete Materials: Local stone, concrete, cypress wood, zinc cladding

Status: Schematic design – Reconstruction project (2014)

Client: Shan Shui Chen Development LTD

Total site area: 4.345 sqm Total built area:  2.097 sqm



The main concept of the three villas is the privacy. In order to provide it we moulded the terrain to shape a private valley. The valley is secured by a wire fence that is almost invisible because it is hidden by the vegetation. The views are controlled by the planted trees on the protective wall between the lake and the pond.


The houses are designed such that it is one with nature. The exterior and interior are  overlapped and merged, blurring the distinct edge between them. Nature also plays a role as a connector since the vegetation and position of rocks create a sense of unity between the houses and their exterior spaces. There are three villas – Water, Hill and Tree villa.   Each of the houses includes a water element in its design. Everything in the valley appears to be connected but the entrances to the houses are protected and independent.   The ramp leads to the entrance gate (control point) for cars while the staircase is for the pedestrians. Further down are five parking slots with a shelter embedded in the landscape that includes the services for the house. The houses are also built keeping in mind the privacy that will be required from the north side which holds the public part of the lake. The protective wall which has new planted trees will control the view from and to the villas.



Use of water as a key element.


The entrance to this house is at -1 level through a short tunnel. When entering the tunnel it gives a feeling of compression until you are released into the open lounge with scenic views on the other end. The plan of the house is open in the north with an infinity pool that acts as a border between the lake and the villa. There is another pool in the south which will provide scenic reflections in the day as well as in the night. The water also surrounds the smaller volumes of the houses and flows under the glass staircase trough the rocks.   The villa is designed as two distinct objects. The main one holds the main living space and meeting spaces designed as open rooms while the other holds a more neutral and private karaoke room  along with a room for the assistant.    


The volume of the house is designed as two entities- one big and one small- and both are connected by a staircase enclosed in glass so you can see the rocks and water below the glass slab. The steps and slab are made in glass and visually connects nature and water with the rocks. This also allows you to see through the entire volume. The vegetation seeps into the terrace where the Jacuzzi is located and becomes part of the house.


The louvers are made in wood with a local pattern. The north side is kept private while the south side is provided with patterned shadows along with privacy. Keeping in mind the requirement and importance of nature to the design concept, all the walls of the bathrooms are made in glass and made private with bamboo plants to provide a sense of intimacy with nature.   The bedroom is a room of curtains and emotions. The room has no real walls and instead has translucent curtains as walls. These curtains are in a continuous state of motion and hence give the bedroom a feel of drama. Since the curtains are translucent it also allows a subtle element of nature that is seen when in the room. The dominant object of the room is the round bed.     The living room is designed as an `exposing space´. The flooring in the living room is in black marble to give it a sense of imitation and representations of the black reflective nature of water. The ceiling is clad in zinc alloy to provide a similar nature of reflection and together the flooring and ceiling provide magnified reflections. The -1 level on the south side is at the same level as the pool and appears as if it were a continuation of the water/floor. There is a big fireplace next to the spacious round meeting table.   The Karaoke room is designed as an acoustic isolation. The blue material will be used on the floors and walls and will appear like topography because of the designed elements of sofas, stages and armchairs.



The design of this villa is based on the thousand Turtle Mountains which bear huge cracks with vegetation growing within them. The Villa itself emulates this quality through four volumes where each volume bears cracks in the form of windows where vegetation is seen growing. In this way the villa imitates qualities of the mountain itself. The entrance to the villa itself is hidden and appears as though it is sinking into the landscape with rocks.


The entrance to the villa is from the south side which is the back of the building. Further down are stairs that lead to the lobby which is at -1 level where you can enter the club directly. There are 3 guest rooms on the upper floors.  The entrance via the elevator is also the only exit on 0 level.   The main entrance on the -1 floor is through the lobby with the rocky walls with the opened strip in to roof to let the natural light enter. In this part there are also toilets discreetly separated from the main space of the bar. The entrance to the club is narrow, separated from the lobby with the volume used as a bar with services. There is also a direct access to the exterior lounge with the pool. The performing stage with its backstage is located on the south side of the Hill villa – the part with the rocks emerges into the interior space. The rocky walls goes on to the seating till it creates a crack for the fireplace.  The open north part of the building faces the lounge of the pool, the sliding door divides the sides and makes it open to one or both when needed.


The furniture included in the exterior lounge is far more casual and relaxed. The elevator plays a key role in completing the emulation of these hills. The elevator is itself illuminated and hydraulic in nature and is placed in the crack of two main volumes. The flooring is Black Marble. The volume itself is built in concrete and is left exposed with visible lines of boarding. The concrete also has a tinge of amber in it. In the interior spaces, which are scooped out of the entire volume, a golden tinge in colour appears because it is left raw after digging.   The furniture is mainly in Leather with golden feature elements. The false ceiling bears a galvanized steel tray which holds yellow stones. These stones filter light through it and project multiple spotlights. The bedrooms in this villa have one skylights each in the ceiling – every room has a small garden with bamboos in the part under the skylight that separates the toilet from the open shower with Jacuzzi. Here, the natural light enters and the guests can see the sky from the shower.   The terrace level is green because of the vegetation that grows into it and this makes the roof a green space.



The vision of living within the trees is a concept kept in mind while designing the tree villa.  


The entrance to the Tree villa is in the central point of the disposition and opens towards the connecting space – hall, living room and dining room is a fluent space that connects all sides of the house with the exterior. The volume of the staircase is hidden and appears closed towards the sides and open towards the roof so light enters gently inside. This volume leads to the – 1 floor where the private apartment is located.   The apartments are designed keeping privacy in mind and at the same time open and one with nature. They are closed towards the interior but open towards the exterior (nature).


The trees in the interior of the living room are a kind of open lounge with wooden pieces that represent the sofas. The openings in the roof create an intimate atmosphere with natural light filtering through into the interior. The jacuzzi, shower and bath tub in the private apartment on the -1 floor are closely connected with the nature, the facade is as open toward the trees as possible in order to create the emotion of living within the trees.


The characterizing exterior material for the tree villa is the cypress wood that quickly oxidizes with the changing weather conditions and becomes dark. The façade is shaped with vertical cypress members which are placed at angles and never parallel to the concrete wall itself. It is placed such that there is always a gap between the cypress wooden surface and the concrete thus always keeping room for plants to grow within or light to filter through. This also illuminates the pathways that lead into the house. When plants start growing within this it appears as though they become part of the surrounding vegetation.   The material for the interior is bright cypress wood cladding and is used for all the surfaces – floor, walls and ceiling. In the bathrooms the wood is used as thin planks so the humidity can be absorbed. The opening in the ceiling for the interior trees are copied in the false ceiling and serve as lighting objects – designed  lamps with two types of colour – amber and dark caramel.   In the parts without the wooden façade (the north part looking towards the lake)  zinc alloy is used as cladding, so there are reflections of the trees and lake. There are two main glass volumes with the subtle profiles – master bedroom and living room, here folding windows are used, so the interior can be as much as possible open towards the exterior. The window frames are made of black aluminium.   In the master bedroom the bed is the central point of the space. Also bathtubs are free objects in the space always with views through the trees.