A Holiday Cafeteria by the Taihu Lake Ring Road

Suzhou
Architects
Parallect Design
Location
光福镇环太湖大道坎上村8组26号, Suzhou
Year
2023

The project is located in Guangfu Town by Tai Lake in Suzhou. The project is surrounded by villagers' old self-built houses of various ages. It is only one road away from Tai Lake in the southwest, with a wide view and convenient transportation. The site is located on the shore of Tai Lake, 28 kilometers west of Suzhou. It borders Zangshu Town in the east, Tai Lake in the west, Xukou Town in the south, and Dongzhu in the north. It is only 10 minutes’ drive from Tai Lake Resort.

The original buildings are a three-story brick structure self-built house with a yard and a one-story wooden addition. In order to prevent moisture, the original owner built a raised courtyard platform after entering the house. However, due to the long service life and the original construction problems of the existing buildings, the columns of the additional single-story terrace in the courtyard have produced large cracks. Based on the structural safety issues, we agreed that the additional part of the courtyard and the one-story wooden auxiliary building should be demolished and reconstructed.

The owner of the project is a native of Guangfu Town. She grew up here, and she rented this self-built house by the lake for a catering business. When we were communicating with her about the design, she proposed to reserve a private space for herself to work and receive some friends in private. Thus, we used a bay on the 3rd floor as her private office and accommodation area. At the same time, the other two rooms and bathrooms divided by the remaining bays on the 3rd floor are also convenient for her to do some relatively private reception here.

At the beginning of the design, it is obvious that there are two different ways to allow the building to grow naturally with the site or to stand alone on the site. However, whether it is Party A's demands or the "sense of fate" of the existing site conditions, they remind us all the time that the theme is "seeing". How to "see" Tai Lake is the design goal of this project. We hope that guests who come here can see Tai Lake from different positions after entering the field. We use rich hierarchical relationships to enhance the richness of people watching Tai Lake, attracting people to travel around to different spaces in the building.

After multiple rounds of discussions and idea collisions with Party A, we finally decided on the concept of renovating this building with layers of platforms, aiming to create a lake-viewing experience of different heights. The project is by Tai Lake, and there are relatively many rainy days in Suzhou. In the early stage of construction, we filled the courtyard area that was lower than Huanhu Road before, so that the previous low-lying and uneven courtyard could be expanded to form a relatively comfortable and flat outdoor courtyard, and the whole of the first floor of the building and the courtyard were slightly higher than the road surface. Through sorting out the structure and demolition of the existing buildings, the architectural design is stacked and shaped through the relationship among blocks, and finally forms a formal relationship of stepping back and forth. The sunken space on the north side of the courtyard can be used to hold outdoor performances and parties. In order to have a better view when looking at the lake, we made relatively large rectangular windows on the building facade facing the lake, so as to present the lake as much as possible in the eyes of the passing guests.

There will be some disadvantages when the original self-built residential space is converted into a public space for commercial use, such as fragmentary space and small scale, more partition walls, low floor height and so on. We renovated the original living room on the first floor into the main dining room and hall. As the largest space in the building, the bar counter and different booths and scattered seats surrounding the bar counter are placed.

Thanks to the demolition of the original windows and doors, the old building and the new added part are more coherent and the usable area has been expanded a lot. We put the bar counter into the space by attaching the old and new walls, so that the whole hall can connect and radiate the whole space with the coffee bar as the core. The longer bar uses a circular arc at the junction of spaces to guide people to the other end of the space. The new built auxiliary building on the right is used as an area where the owner usually receives some personal friends. The space as a whole is dominated by clean and tidy white tones, and some colors are dotted on the furniture. The indoor ceiling and stairs use stacked arcs as the basic language components to wrap the space, just like the backflow collision when the lake water is pushed to the shore and splashes.

Thanks to the demolition of the original windows and doors, the old building and the new added part are more coherent and the usable area has been expanded a lot. We put the bar counter into the space by attaching the old and new walls, so that the whole hall can connect and radiate the whole space with the coffee bar as the core. The longer bar uses a circular arc at the junction of spaces to guide people to the other end of the space. The new built auxiliary building on the right is used as an area where the owner usually receives some personal friends. The space as a whole is dominated by clean and tidy white tones, and some colors are dotted on the furniture. The indoor ceiling and stairs use stacked arcs as the basic language components to wrap the space, just like the backflow collision when the lake water is pushed to the shore and splashes.

The long-term epidemic has made people want to escape the city and look for an oasis of spiritual habitat. The project uses the lake as a medium to draw people here to enhance the interaction between people, listen to each other, and create more possibilities. Far away from the city, the streets where people stroll and the buildings standing here constitute a desirable life. We hope that every customer who comes here can reap their own peace and comfort.

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