Nestled in the mountains of Moganshan, Cloud Hotel sits serenely in a bamboo forest in Deqing County, a popular retreat destination 200km away from Shanghai. The original building had three levels built along the mountain slope and carried features inspired by European castles. STUDIO8 was commissioned to renovate the architecture and interiors and redesign the visual identity.
In the renovation process, STUDIO8 aimed to best utilize the natural slope formed by the landscape, while taking full advantage of the spectacular mountain views. The designers were also faced with a challenge to create a dynamic integration of the spatial experience and the “Cloud” brand image, and to infuse it into all design decisions. “Architecture built-in nature functions as the media in between humans and nature; it should blend into the landscape organically, instead of just being in it,” says the studio.
The original building had guest rooms on the first and second floors; a lightweight extension with arched glazings had been added on top to serve as the dining space. While the architecture lacked a coherent hierarchy and style, it did have a feature that served the renovation well – it was not built directly against the mountain, providing much more room and potential for the extension. Rather than stacking upwards, STUDIO8 decided to bring life to the underused belowground levels, adding more layers into the space without increasing the height of the building or creating additional impact to the environment.
The new hotel has a total of five levels terraced alongside the mountain slope. Entering from the west corner of the premises, guests pass through the garden and arrive at the reception, a glass room enclosed by large glazings. On one side of the reception is the wine cellar and the private dining room, linked by a sunken garden designed to provide more natural light and better views; on the other side lies the steel staircase, leading to the swimming pool and the restaurant on the second level.
To achieve a consistent brand image, STUDIO8 carefully curated the interior and visual identity design of the hotel to match well with the “Cloud” concept. The ubiquitous presence of curve and arch elements akin to clouds can be seen throughout the space – the ceiling, the spiral staircase, and the openings in various expressions. All guest rooms have a white arched terrace that overlooks the swimming pool and provides a panoramic view of the valleys and gentle hills beyond, conveying a feeling of “walking in the clouds”.
Pure white finishes give a clean background to the interiors of the restaurant, while the bronze accent found in the tables and lighting adds a warm, earthy tone. The dining area boasts a cloud-like fluctuating ceiling that also hides the light strips and air vents in between the gaps. A one-off vintage cabinet from Belgium – the focal point of the dining space – is set against the whitewashed wall. The restaurant also features customized circular dining tables made of wood, local granite and rufous lacquered stone.
To avoid cliché and excessive ornaments, the interior settings are kept to a minimum for a bright and airy feel. Guest rooms have a subdued aesthetic. In the largest suite, a bespoke laurel green headboard hangs from a brass rod, echoing the green-hued Persian carpet and green walls in the bathroom. The curve element appears not only in the spiral stair but also in the bathroom partition walls. Gentle curves soften the room’s layout, re-emphasizing the light and airy feeling of the “Cloud”.
Cloud Hotel isn’t the first boutique hotel in Mogan Mountain that STUDIO8 has worked on – back in 2017, it completed the architecture, interior and visual identity design of Anadu, another resort in the same region. Both being retreats for city dwellers, the two projects distinguish themselves by their idiosyncratic style. The newly built Anadu boasts a meditative, solitary experience that connects guests to nature, while the transformed Cloud Hotel blends into the landscape in a spontaneous manner and gives the feeling of being “lost in the clouds”.