Artyzen Sifang — Nanjing, China

Artyzen Sifang — Nanjing, China

If it’s not already clear, China is a country that favours huge projects, especially when it comes to the nexus of architecture and cultural institutions. Case in point is Artyzen Sifang, a project that is otherworldly in both scale and ambitions.

Set on a south-facing hill that’s flanked by a lake and woods, the complex of 21 buildings was designed as a destination retreat for MICE and archi- and art-hounds. To this end, 20 bold-faced architects and artists were lured to the project, which includes a contemporary art museum designed by Steven Holl and a villa by David Adjaye.

Taking centre-stage is a 22-room hotel (though, for some reason, the developers prefer to call it a recreational centre) designed by Ettore Sottsass, the façade and vast soaring interior hardscape filled with the Italian architect’s familiar colour blocking. 

Without detracting from the bold hues, Hirsch Bedner Associates gamely worked up the soft furnishings with woollen rugs lined with geometric forms, rectilineal sofas with angled sides and white stucco walls for contrast. The views of wooded glens through the bathroom windows are a treat, as are the relatively austere, light-filled spa, and the lounge and foyer – the latter dominated by a soaring double-volumed space that’s capped by a striated skylight.

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