Skywells Boutique Hotel

Skywells is located in rural Jiangxi, a province in the southeast of China. Originally a merchant’s mansion in the Huizhou architecture style, it features three ‘sky wells’; openings within the building used for water collection and air circulation. With some of the sections of the building dating back 300 years, the original structure was in a state of desperate disrepair due to neglect and effects of a humid climate with much of the structure rotten and unstable. 

The client wanted to restore and rebuild all the hotel’s public spaces to match the traditional design style of the original building. Timber walls, delicately carved window and door screens, flagstone floors and the traditional barrel roof tiles were all salvaged where possible. Local carpenters, artisans and craftspeople were hired to rebuild and restore the interiors, which included replicating many of the carved beams and door screens featured throughout.

 

In contrast, the client wanted the guest rooms to have a more paired back, contemporary feel, mixing Asian craftsmanship with modern European furnishings. Orientated around the skywells, each room features a unique layout with its own charming nooks and crannies, the results of decades of updates and use changes to the space. To balance out the thick walls and small windows the roof was raised several feet to allow more natural daylight to filter into the rooms, highlighting the exposed timber structure.

 

A single story steel and glass structure was added in the interior courtyard to serve as the hotel’s restaurant. For this space care was taken to highlight it as a modern addition, rather than trying to blend old and new. 

WHAT

Commercial, Building Restoration

WHERE

Jiangxi, China

WHEN

2016