neri & hu's 'walled' hotel is a boutique fortress with vernacular chinese courtyards

neri & hu's 'walled' hotel is a boutique fortress with vernacular chinese courtyards

situated in close proximity to yangzhou’s scenic slender west lake, the site given to neri & hu to design a 20-room boutique hotel called ‘the walled’ was a challenging one, dotted with small lakes and a handful of existing structures. the design brief called for the adaptive reuse of several old buildings by giving them new functions, while adding new structures to accommodate the hotel’s capacity needs. neri & hu’s strategy to unify these scattered elements was to overlay a grid of walls and paths onto the site to tie the entire project together, resulting in multiple courtyard enclosures.


UPDATE: this project was shortlisted in the ‘hotel and leisure – completed buildings’ category at the 2018 world architecture festival.

all images © pedro pegenaute



the inspiration for the design originates with the courtyard house typology of vernacular chinese architecture. as a traditional one, the courtyard gives hierarchy to the spaces, frames views of the sky and earth, encapsulates landscape into architecture, and creates an overlap between interior and exterior spaces.



constructed entirely from reclaimed grey brick, the gridded walls’ narrow interior passageway forces a long perspective, while light plays off the various brick patterns. within the walls, several of the courtyards are occupied by guest rooms and shared amenities such as the reception, library, and restaurant. many of the building’s roof lines are confined within the height of the walls surrounding them, so that they are not visible from afar.



hotel guests traverse the site using the walled pathways to find their rooms. there is a clear separation between the building and the walls, a layering of privacy and a sliver of the landscape for guests to enjoy. walking along the walls, guests can also ascend through openings above to gain privileged vantage points that look out across the gridded landscape and beyond to the surrounding lakes.



three additional buildings take their place in the panorama: the rising second floor of the largest courtyard building; a lakeside pavilion of four guest rooms; and a multifunctional building at the furthest point of the site. in this project, neri & hu’s ambition lies in utilizing a strong landscape element — the wall and courtyard — to unify a complex site and program, while the rustic materiality and layered spaces seek to redefine tradition with a modern architectural language.

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    501,537 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample