White Crane Lake Visitor Center / Archperience

Architects: Archperience
Area: 3,620 m²
Year: 2023
Photography: Jianghe Zeng
Lead Architects: Jin’ang Yang
Design Team: Chuanhui Huang, Zhendong Wang, Huijuan Wang, Zheng Zhang
Project Director: Lie Dai
Engineering: Jianxue Achitecture and Engineering Design Institute Co.
Landscape: Jiangxi General Institute of Architectural Design and Research
Collaborators: Verse Design
Interior: Archperience (Beijing) Design and Consulting Co.
Lighting: Jiangxi Zhongye Landscape Engineering Co.
Program / Use / Building Function: Public Architecture, Cultural Architecture, Visitor Center
Clients: Jiangxi Guogui Culture & Tourism Development Co.
City: Yingtan
Country: China

White Crane Lake Visitor Center, designed by Archperience in Yingtan, Jiangxi Province, is a modern cultural building aimed at enhancing tourism. Completed in 2023, this project harmoniously integrates with its natural surroundings, featuring a bamboo-inspired design and innovative environmental considerations.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience

Located near Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province, White Crane Lake covers an area of 10 square kilometers. The Visitor Center is the centerpiece of a comprehensive development initiative for White Crane Lake. The challenge was to place a modern cultural building aimed at increasing tourism in a natural environment defined by its quiet ambiance. The project had multiple functional requirements while balancing the need to coexist elegantly with the landscape of forests, mountains, and the lake.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience

The architect’s intuition and experience led to a decisive design approach. Rather than associating with local residential architectural styles or emphasizing traditional materials and construction methods, the building accentuates the natural qualities and atmosphere of White Crane Lake. Located on a tidal flat, surrounded by the lake on the north, south, and west sides, with a bamboo forest to the east, the center’s design reflects the natural environment. As the sun rises, dense clouds and mist disperse in the surrounding forests.

To reduce environmental intervention, the building adopts a decentralized layout, dividing its overall form into a series of connected volumes, effectively reducing its perceived visual scale. The design incorporates rounded forms and curves, softening its relationship with the surroundings and giving the impression of flow and movement. The project invites visitors to stroll around it, with views of its form and environment constantly changing, unfolding like a traditional Chinese scroll painting on the lake.

The architect chose a transparent glass volume to integrate with the environment, introducing a second layer of “bamboo skin.” This skin floats around the building, resembling the wings of a white crane or a bamboo cloud by the waterfront. The continuous skin integrates separate building volumes, creating the appearance of continuity and natural integration. The building’s envelope was defined by programmatic and formal considerations, with secondary points chosen for the skin’s undulations based on the building’s functions and landscape views. This design results in a floating bamboo cloud exterior, ensuring optimal views from interior public spaces.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience

The architect conducted schematic explorations, considering various potential patterns for the skin. After evaluating horizontal and vertical grid-like versions, as well as interconnected pyramidal forms, computer analyses using Grasshopper software were conducted. The lightest option, chosen for its translucent quality and practical feasibility as a “woven” texture, was selected.

Extensive consultations with the client and suppliers, along with significant on-site testing, ensured durability and the desired visual and tactile effect. The designer chose a special surface-treated metal alloy for the skin, which resembles natural bamboo. Despite lacking the tactile qualities of real bamboo, it was chosen for its long-term viability, ease of maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. This solution was deemed the best for a modestly scaled public building by all parties involved.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience

In the courtyard enclosed by the building volume and elevated walkways, the architect placed a spiral staircase. This staircase allows visitors to ascend to the second-floor viewing platform from ground level and serves as a strong visual focus for the courtyard space. Its concentric circular steps with changing radii and variegated side railing create a dynamic, complex shape that provides creative tension with the space’s other elements. A borderless pool on the second-floor roof terrace blends its water surface with the distant blues of the lake and sky when viewed from above.

The visitor center is divided into clearly legible volumes, each with specific functions, including a general reception area, restaurant, conference space, and VIP Club. The reception hall, located in the southwest portion for convenient accessibility, the restaurant in the northwest for optimal landscape views, the administration in the quieter southeast corner, and the VIP Club on the top floor to maximize lake views.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience

The architect approached the project with poetic imagination, leading to the concept of “bamboo clouds on the water.” This design allows the building to integrate gently with the surrounding mountains and forest, blending seamlessly with the natural elements. The morning mist rising from the lake transforms into an edifice that appears to hang in the air, resembling floating bamboo clouds on the shore.

White crane lake visitor center / archperience
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Guixi, Yingtan 335404, China.

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