Chaptel Hangzhou, Hangzhou, China
BHD Consulting Ltd

Situated next to the West Lake (World Heritage Site) in Hangzhou, the project is the conversion of 4 rows of Shikumen houses built in the 1930s to an urban boutique hotel with 21 keys.

The ‘Shikumen’, or Stone Warehouse Gate, is a blend of Western modern architecture with the local traditional architectural style, one that combined Western and Chinese elements that first appeared in China in the 1860s. The Shikumen resemble Anglo-American terrace houses distinguished by high brick walls enclosing a narrow front yard. Each residence abuts another and all are arranged in straight side alleys. The Shikumen retains the traditional Chinese courtyard typology in its urban variation, the internal alley, which provides a communal haven from the commotion in the streets.

The restoration sought to revitalize the Shikumen typology into a distinctive spatial experience that is both familiar and unique at the same time. The overall layout planning started with the exploration of the communal and private spaces. As far as possible, the original double-storey unit is kept as a single guest suite, retaining the characteristics of individual dwelling units with entrances connected by common veranda on the ground floor. On the upper floors, the units are also connected by a communal sun deck or roof terrace at the rear of the units. All of the guest suites face the internal alleys, previously the communal area, and now a quaint outdoor sanctuary for the guests.

The ultimate aspiration of the boutique hotel is for the guests to feel at home. The previous domestic interior layout lends itself well to this purpose. Sitting rooms and bedrooms are on separate levels, connected by a restored timber staircase. A low ceiling storeroom connected to a mid landing was converted into an oversized wet shower bathroom that was separated from the en-suite water closet room, a designed inconvenience that aimed to encourage guests to experience a specific daily habit as an event.

The Project was designed and completed in 2013 almost in parallel with our Yihe Mansions Project in Nanjing with a similar historical context of the Republic Period of China. At this time, the design team was preoccupied with the possible differences and effects of the two similar but yet distinct stylistic perspectives - looking from East to West and vice versa. There are common design references and experiments but neither is a replica of the other.

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