The Snow Apartment
Friday 23 May 2014


The Snow Apartment by penda is located in Zhangjiakou, a famous skiing region 160km North of Beijing, and offers a weekend-getaway for the client and his friends.

The design of the apartment is inspired by a melting snowfield in spring, when nature slowly revives from winter and offers a contrast of cold and warm, white and colour. This atmosphere was translated into architecture by hand-plastered, white shells, which cover the walls and ceiling and create a seamless space, which guides visitors naturally through the apartment. The curves of the interior respond in a very direct way to the outside landscape of mountains and valleys.

Introducing a warm and natural element into the apartment, the white shells are partially cut by wooden boxes, which provide areas for relaxing, communicating and displaying artwork. The walls are lifted up 5cm and backlit which creates a clear differentiation between the white shells and the wooden floor. The upper parts of the shells are partly cut and back-lit by LEDs as well. Thus the ceiling becomes a field of ambient lighting, forming an atmospherical and organisational element throughout the apartment.

The shells flow through the space, creating hybrid conditions of the hallway, the public areas and the private rooms. The layout of the apartment features seven bedrooms, a large cloakroom and storage for skiing equipment, several bathrooms and a large living room in its centre. The curved walls guide the guests to a spiral staircase, which leads to the upper floor of the apartment, offering a more formal living and dining experience with direct access to a large roof terrace.

To enable this uniform seamless space, undulated timber slates create a back-layer, on which local craftsmen hand-plastered the white, rough wall-finish. Using plaster is very common in the north of China and has a long tradition, which can be seen in the accurate details in the apartment. Using the local knowledge of the craftsmen's technique of how to use plaster for double curved walls (instead of CNC milled panels), gives the apartment a very natural and honest ambience.

A network of heating pipes rests behind the plastered shells and emits warmth through the walls into the apartment. The warmth together with the handcrafted finish of the shells provide a very haptic and cosy feeling to guests, when they return from a cold day on the skiing slopes.

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