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Oriental Charm, An Art of Space

Anna Zhong 2018-04-11 09:35

Designer Alessio Zhang holds the firm belief that modern techniques are able to interpret oriental charm to the largest extent. With the aid of modernistic elements, a space infused with oriental grace was thus born. It is simple, natural, moderate, and philosophical.

The Parkview estate takes the full advantage of its proximity of Ma’anshan Park and the mountain’s distinctive shape. With the attractive hill view, the estate stretches into a staged, ascending structure from east to west. In the garden the subtropical plants and Japanese style waterscape fuse into a harmonious melody, and meantime correspond with the natural inhabitants in Ma’anshan Park. Tall arbours match with plump bushes, beside which flows the spring water and stands the artistic sculptures. Along with the cobblestone path and iconic Japanese garden ornaments, the whole environment brings visitors to the true realm of nature. Surrounded by all the natural elements, the modern architecture feel as though it is engraved into the garden - a marvellous spectacle of poetic contemporary life.

The base of the architecture is a traditional U-shaped structure, similar to the “Siheyuan”. The space enclosed within, “should not be gazed but through squinting eyes. The mottled light cast on the bamboo curtain and the bamboo curtain cast its shade onto the water. It is not a widely open space, but it offers a wonderful view. I can hardly find any words to give a detailed description of it.” Meanwhile, the indoor design also follows the same guideline of a natural “painting” – that embodies the concept from small details, and leaves abundant space for meandering.


The original space structure of the Parkview was a squared, organized, and symmetric one. From this point the indoor space is sectioned into four major functional areas: the entrance hall first, then the exhibition area at the left hand and meeting area themed as tea at the right hand, plus a dining section at the end. “Introducing the view into the indoor space” is the ruling concept. The walls on both sides feature large-scale French windows. This feature facilitates visitors from each corner of the room to enjoy the waterscape and garden scenarios opposite to the building. The hillside wall is brilliantly sectioned by “rhythmic” beams. Between the functional areas we see how the “bamboo curtain” lines separate the space and provide distinctive details of interest to the square-shaped area. But at the same time, these lines could be flexibly changed or removed due to specific requirements and functions to enlarge the general spatial capacity. The façade of the glass wall, as of the upper part, is covered by corresponding wooden fence to increase a sense of delight. This design feature correlates with the inside separation and meantime the sun is presented as a natural artist - she penetrates through the gaps of the fence and creates a vivid show through the ever-changing form of light and shade.



Interpreting oriental charm through modern methods is one of the core values that the designer Alessio Zhang adheres to. Eliminate the complex carving patterns on wood pillars and the dragon-phoenix featured screens, and as Zhang put it, “the so-called oriental charm, is not to deliberately restore the whole picture of traditional tenon-and-mortise structure and beam-column framework, but the essential elements and methods corresponding to the modern design philosophy that is based on intensive research and understanding of traditional techniques, materials, ratios and ideas.” He said, “For me, oriental charm is to create a space that encloses the feelings of ‘simple, natural, moderate and philosophical’, and these are the most critical ideas of the oriental aesthetics.”

For a designer, the pursuit of localisation is an international vision, a scientific attitude, as well as a humanitarian concern. The whole space is covered by locally made dark coloured floor. But interestingly, the floor also carries the features of “enduring the test of time and embodies the natural maturation through the grey tone”, and at the same time echoes with the grey ground and set the general tone for the whole solemnity and elegance of the space. The tables and chairs, however, were customized for the estate. The light-coloured slipcover weakens the absurdity of wood while the curve body softens the straight lines brought by the main structure, and eventually lightens the atmosphere. Another aspect comes to the inspiration based on the orange tone, which is presented through the natural colours from the fresh fruits in season – mandarins, persimmons, bergamots, and various species of berries. The light colours not only perfectly match with the base colour of the wood and the black-and-white elements, but also vivify the whole effect and bring a warm and vital touch to the general design.

“Design, above all, must be beautiful. And as of the beauty, it often depends on the understandings of ‘maturation’. It’s just like writing an essay. Only when the words and phrases cooperate in a natural way could the essay be deemed as a sensible one,” defines Zhang on his own philosophy of design. In Ma Yuan’s Lone Fishing from the Nan Song dynasty, he interpreted a man fishing alone in a small boat. The whole picture depicts no traces of water, resulting in an extremely grand idea of nature. Just like in the Parkview, life philosophers are given the chance to appreciate the changing view of seasons and the game played by light and shade. Here, they understand the wonder of nature presented through a little piece of space.

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