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13 Sep 2023
White Crane Lake visitor centre in Yingtan, China glows like a shining lantern on a lake
By Tom Walker
White Crane Lake visitor centre in Yingtan, China glows like a shining lantern on a lake
The buiding has been designed to look like a glowing lantern at night
Photo: Archperience Design
A newly opened visitor centre at White Crane Lake in Yingtan, China, has been designed to look like a shining lantern within a forest.

The White Crane Lake Visitor Center forms part of an ambitious tourism development initiative for the area in Jiangxi Province.

Designed by Beijing-based architecture firm, Archperience Design, the centre features a general reception area, a viewing platform, rooftop pool, restaurant, conference space, and a VIP Club.

The design brief was to place a "stylistically modern cultural building", aimed at increasing tourism into an area of a natural beauty which is defined by its quiet ambience.

The visitor centre is located on a tidal flat, surrounded by the lake on the north, south, and west sides of the site, with an extensive bamboo forest to the east.

In order to reduce its impact on the environment, Archperience Design opted for a decentralised layout, so its overall form is divided into a series of connected volumes which effectively reduces its perceived visual scale.

The building’s design also incorporates rounded forms and curves, softening its relationship with its surroundings and giving the impression of flow and movement.

The building incorporates a transparent, undulating glass volume with a second layer of "bamboo skin".

The continuous skin was designed so it would appear to float over the glass volume – like a "cloud of bamboo" by the water – while integrating the separate building masses and giving the building a sense of fluidity, continuity, and integration with nature.

The woven bamboo skin is composed of a diamond-shaped grid which serves as a base layer, and a densely interspersed woven layer, which is supported by a series of curved galvanized steel pipes.

A comprehensive lighting system has also been integrated into the building’s outer skin, so that when the sun goes down and darkness sets in, the complex external latticework lights up.

The building appears to shine, recalling a bamboo lantern floating on the lake, creating a visually memorable scene for visitors to the site.

The project's lead architect, Jin’ang Yang, said: "When I was first formulating my design approach to the project, a simple solution would have been to take the materials and forms of the existing local houses in Jiangxi – and then abstracting and translating that language, essentially reinterpreting traditional architecture with a modern approach.

"However, considering that the building’s programme requires nearly 3,000 square meters of area, the appearance of a new, large-scale traditional Chinese-style building on the water's edge would be visually disturbing and incongruous with the nature surrounding it."

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