Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities contains the classic line “Every time I describe a city, I am saying something about Venice.”
Lishui Resort, in Zhejiang province, recalls this sentiment for us in its planning. Two separate villages are designed to be in constant conversation with one another, and their shared ancient surroundings. These two hospitality projects are entirely different in character, each influenced by their individual landscapes. But like any significant relationship, or Calvino’s Marco Polo, you cannot talk about one without saying something about the other.
Their personalities are different; one village is like the explorer – open and curious, and the other is comfortable waiting to be uncovered, an easy distance from reality. The attraction of both is the opposites – the business of one village is balanced by the beauty and position overlooking two rivers.
Guests arrive via boat to the Central Valley, with the harbor on one side. The middle of the valley holds collective programs for the resort, while the end of the valley houses the resort’s main building, which over sees a 1,000-year-old dam.
One program contains a center square that connects the two villages via a small street. On the other side, the second program sits on a peninsula surrounded by hills and valleys, undisturbed by the busy life on other side. A small boat from the square takes guest back and forth.
This particular site has several valleys that connect to the bigger, main valley. Three valleys offer different types of guest accommodation. The scale is more intimate, and relies on the natural mysteriousness of the landscape, every changing and always offering another feature at each turn.
The second extension village is cut in two: the first part is adjacent to the old village has streets and alleys for visitors to stroll through. There are bars, small hotels, restaurants and shopping spots. The opposite is a slightly larger hotel that offers more luxurious accommodation. An art museum on the square showcases art produced in a connecting village, a small echo within a larger one of Calvino’s idea that everything exists in relationship to something else.
Completion: Year 2017 – on hold
Design scope: planning, architecture, interior
Size: North 65.801 sqm; South 150,667 sqm
Design team: Wendy Saunders, Vincent de Graaf, Javier Pza Taibo, Shirley Woo, Isabel Qin, Vincent Zhou