Wutopia Lab’s epic Aluminium Mountain emerges from artificial fog
Inspired by the vision of one of China’s most famous mountains, Mount Luofu, this exhibition centre combines Daoist philosophy with aluminium to create a serene and slightly sci-fi experience of architecture and nature
Chinese architecture practice Wutopia Lab has designed a new building for a traditional Chinese Medicine Health Industrial Park Exhibition Centre in the region of the famous Daoist Mount Luofu in Guangdong, China. The project, which consists of three mostly subterranean cone-shaped buildings, has been named ‘The Aluminium Mountain’ and is surrounded by an undulating landscape design by Z Studio.
When chief architect Yu Ting first visited the site, the weather was misty and he experienced his very first view of the mountain as a ‘sudden emergence’ that gripped him with its beauty. Inspired by a phrase from Chinese literature ‘one sea and three mountains’, he decided to create three ‘mountains’ through the architecture, using the basic geometry of the circle and cone, based on Daoist philosophy.
The main material of the building is a silver aluminum that was used to balance the heaviness of the building and the lightness of the mountain. Three different levels of perforation were used to create a gradient applied to the cone-shaped forms. At night when the architecture is lit it becomes very ethereal and the forms appear to hover.
Most of the functions of the centre are underground, sheltered beneath a metal roof supported by six concrete columns. A freestanding 11.9m spiral staircase travels through the Aluminium Mountain from the basement to the entrance at the top where artificial fog is pumped out. The interiors echo the architecture, in a pallette of greys that represent the tonal qualities of Chinese Ink paintings.
Water surrounds the mountains, and visitors can even take a little boat from the reception to the main centre, experiencing the architecture in a serene way and disembarking straight into the interior. The architect’s aim was to slow down time and create a ’bubble-like maze’ through the complex. He calls it a ‘palace of our time’. §