neri & hu completes a whiskey distillery in china to honor the duality of nature

neri & hu completes a whiskey distillery in china to honor the duality of nature

the backdrop of mount emei


taking influence from the legendary mount emei, neri & hu completes its pernod ricard whiskey distillery in the chinese city of emeishan. the design team notes the spiritual significance of the mountain, which reaches a height of over ten thousand feet and, as a long-time pilgrimage destination, has been named a UNESCO world heritage site.


after winning an international competition for the design of the distillery, neri & hu honors the cultural heritage of the nearby mount emei to create a timeless work of architecture. read designboom’s previous coverage of neri & hu’s winning competition entry here.

neri hu whiskey distilleryimages © chen hao



strength and fluidity


the shanghai-based team at neri & hu sites its pernod ricard whiskey distillery with the majestic emei peak as a backdrop. the team notes that this site exemplifies the duality of natural elements which make up the world — the chinese notion of ‘shan-shui’ literally means ‘mountain-water.’ while shan represents strength and permanence, shui represents fluidity and transformation. the two forces are at once opposing and complementary. 


with this philosophy as a driving design principle, the architecture conceives a gesture whose very strength lies in its humbleness and simplicity with a profound respect for nature. this paradigm is also manifested in the shan shui painting, one of the three genres of traditional chinese painting, in which the integration of two elements leads to another dimension of the picturesque.

neri hu whiskey distillery



symbolic duality through architecture


with the architecture of the whiskey distillery, neri & hu seeks to manifest this balanced duality. the industrial buildings take shape as a modern interpretation of vernacular chinese architecture, while the visitor buildings stands as an assemblage of elemental geometries grounded in the terrain.


the production facilities of its whiskey distillery occupy three long parallel buildings. each is embedded into the natural gentle slope of the land with gradually descending rooflines. in an interpretation of vernacular architecture, reclaimed clay tiles give a humble texture to the pitched roofs that rest upon a modern concrete post-and-beam structure. contrasting the vernacular roots of the industrial buildings, two visitor experience buildings take shape as fundamental geometries: the circle and the square. the group notes that in chinese philosophy, these two shapes represent heaven and earth, respectively.

neri hu whiskey distillery


the round tasting experience building is partially submerged in the ground, with five subterranean tasting rooms surrounding a domed courtyard that contains a cascading water feature in the middle. the upper part of the dome reveals itself out of the ground slightly — with three concentric brick rings perched atop, it subtly mirrors the silhouette of mount emei. this sculptural landform becomes an iconic presence that can be seen from every part of site, and meanwhile, acts as a culminating destination from which visitors can enjoy a full panoramic vista.


the square restaurant and bar building is located further down the slope, cantilevered on two sides with one corner hovering over the river bank. while the dining space is organized along the building’s perimeter for open views, at the core an open-air courtyard is oriented to frame the emei peak as a borrowed scene.

neri & hu completes a whiskey distillery in china to honor the duality of nature
view of water courtyard in the restaurant neri & hu completes a whiskey distillery in china to honor the duality of nature

walkway around the experience center


view of experience center and distillery

neri & hu completes a whiskey distillery in china to honor the duality of nature
inside the experience center


aerial view of the terraced landscape



project info:


project title: pernod ricard whiskey distillery

architecture, interior design: neri & hu design and research office

location: emeishan, sichuan province, china

client: pernod ricard

completion: november 2021

photography: chen hao


partners-in-charge: lyndon neri, rossana hu
associate director-in-charge: nellie yang
associate: utsav jain, siyu chen
design team: feng wang, guo peng, josh murphy, fergus davis, alexandra heijink, vivian bao, yota takaira, rosie tseng, nicolas fardet, yin sheng, lili cheng, july huang, luna hong, haiou xin


FF&E design: design republic
landscape design: YIYU design
experience design: BRC imagination arts
construction (architecture & landscape): qi’an group, suzhou hezhan
construction (interior): K&H international

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