Aranya Zhenziwei Restaurant
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Aranya Zhenziwei Restaurant, dining in the heart of the forest

The project in Qinhuangdao, China, aims at creating a relationship between the forest and the building


Aranya Zhenziwei Restaurant

Located right in the locust forest in Aranya, China, the intervention by PLAT ASIA renewed a preexisting black steel frame structure with glazing and a double-slope roof covered by a canopy. Keeping in mind the surrounding environment, the preexisting building as well as the low budget and the short construction period, the architects rethought the design principles aiming at a flexible layout and a strong connection between people and nature, rather than a single interior design.


In the heart of the forest

The forest plays a crucial role in defining the surrounding context: the architects took inspiration from the environment and decided to turn the site into a symbol of the connection between forest and space. Landscape, spatial layout, scale and density were also addressed.

Direct to land ©Arch-Exist Photography

In order to integrate the surrounding nature into the architecture, the designers strategically planted locust trees, hawthorn trees, Pennisetum and turfgrasses on the site. The entrance path is composed of two straight lines that intersect at a 90° angle and a stone monolith placed at the end of the first corridor creates a scenery that prepares guests to a deep dive into the environment.


A duo of parallel levels

To control the spatial scale and layout, architects divided the structure into simple layers that allow the view to open into the horizon. Taking inspiration from the eave, a special element of traditional eastern Asian architecture, simple and logic geometry was deliberately inserted into the preexisting structure, creating two parallel levels. The lower is used as a wooden terrace that extends from the building outline directly into the forest, while the upper one – the ceiling – plays with several height differences. To the north of the building lies a 2.7 m-high private area, while to the south, a calm glazed area. The dining zone is located in the central part of the structure and on the outside deck, under a canopy created by the continuation of the ceiling supported by a steel frame.

Look at the building from the southern forest ©Arch-Exist Photography


Transparence and lighting

The different dining areas are varied, while the open central hall features a more transparent view with a calming atmosphere. The materials used are consistent with the structural frame; there are fewer unnecessary furnishes in order to maintain transparency and gain lighting. The metal panel ceiling inside reflects the surrounding greenery, conferring energy to the interiors, while the dark stones making up the entrance path are set in the ground. Based on the primitive coexistence between architecture, nature and people, the simple-layered design aims at creating a dialogue between the forest and the building, generating an authentic experience for the guests.






Location: Aranya, Qinhuangdao, China
Client: Aranya Operation brand: Zhenziwei
Area: 650 m2
Completion: 2021
Architect: PLAT ASIA

Landscape: PLAT ASIA simo org – Xiaozhan Zhang, Xiaochun Wang
Lighting: XinGeEr Lighting Design
Interior design: YiBoChuan (Shandong) Deepening Design
Decoration design: Yanan Tao

Photography by Arch-Exist Photography; Dennis Zhu@Aranya, courtesy of PLAT ASIA
Video by PLAT ASIA ndn lab

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