Top Design Stories
The Gem Of Beijing
The Puxuan Hotel and Spa is a true gem in the very nerve centre of the Chinese capital, celebrating a design aesthetic straight out of the city in which it was born.
Located a stone’s throw away from Beijing’s Forbidden City, the PuXuan Hotel and Spa has is the latest in the line of Urban Resort Concepts (URC) luxury hotels in the Chinese capital. Boasting of uninterrupted views of the former Imperial Palace or one of Beijing’s oldest neighbourhoods, DongCheng District, the mixed-use development is designed by internationally acclaimed German architect Ole Scheeren, famed for the CCTV Tower also located in Beijing.
Comprising 92 guestrooms and 24 suites, the hotel is a collaboration with Shanghai-based design firm MQ studio. With a focus on exemplifying hallmark design principles, the hotel’s interiors integrate luxurious and understated metaphorical design throughout a modern space, uniquely crafted with local, cultural references.
Whether reflecting the changes of the season, or simply just the time of the day there is a continuous resonating connection to the architectural typology. The courtyard within a courtyard design that features so prominently in the Forbidden City creates a layered spatial composition of arranged illuminated volumes throughout the guest spaces- either artificially or natural lit.
As an extension of the architecture, the stone facade makes way for panels of aged bronze that are gently illuminated. This shift of the material from stone to bronze defines the arrival to the hotel, paying homage to the traditional carved stone thresholds to the doorways of the Hutongs of Beijing. The floor and ceiling finishes extend from the interior to the exterior blurring the boundary between inside and outside.
The courtyard lobby that houses the concierge is furnished with an elegance and a sense of calm and tranquility, with selected handcrafted and artisanal furniture by Hermèsowned Chinese lifestyle brand SHANG XIA furthering the historical sense of the space. The handmade polished oven baked clay “century tiles” from Suzhou further immerse guests in a sense of history. The courtyard has a misty quality during the day with a softly diffused light coming from an upper skylight and a corresponding richer but more tranquil light at night, as the inner mesh of the courtyard is gently illuminated.
Charged with designing the interiors throughout the hotel, Shanghai-based MQ Studio opted for a rich colour and material palette. Similar-tone soft furnishings are scatted throughout The PuXuan Club, a guest suite in the hotel for large groups that is meant to feel more like a private townhouse. Jet-black carbon fibre walls help foster a dark, enveloping atmosphere in the spa that’s on the building’s top floor, accessed via an illuminated glass staircase.
The hotel lifts are set within a square volume of custom-made grey fabric panels that echo the textures of the hutongs, complete with an illuminated ceiling that reflects through a series of back-lit projections of sunlight through Beijing trees to provide a digital representation of the outside world.
Working with the concept of ‘objet trouve’, decoration for Rive Gauche, the main restaurant at The PuXuan, comes directly from the city of its name; Paris. The design and decoration of Rive Gauche is driven from an ‘interpreted’ French aesthetic, creating an overall composition that is both strange and familiar. Through the provision of display or curiosity cabinets, items ranging from bone cutlery, vintage glassware, kitchenware, old French cookbooks, porcelain and a variety of food themed antiquities have been purchased from the flea markets and antique stores that line the streets of Paris.
Fuchun Ju, the main Chinese restaurant at The PuXuan, is made up of a central courtyard with varying scales of sinuous furniture arrangements. Set under a custom-made glass ceiling, the swirls of the seating represent the traditional cloud patterns found in traditional Chinese design, while the ceiling is constructed of interlocking coffered volumes of handmade amber coloured ‘beijing glass’. These designs pay homage to the ‘heavenly’ ceilings of the Imperial Palace. Dark woven rattan paneled walls and discrete darkened mirrors reflect the glass ceilings and the amber walls, simultaneously expanding and contracting the space.
The two-floored URSpa was built as a true oasis in the heart of the city. Designed to be ‘gently masculine’ in attitude and design, the spa uses dark stones, light timbers and aluminum meshes to define the various spaces. The curved treatment room circulation areas are constructed from cast aluminium frames with inserts of light oak, softly wall washed and reflected into the high gloss mirror like black ceiling. An illuminated glass staircase brings guests into the second floor of the spa, inspired from engineering and materiality more associated with luxury transportation, ranging from yachting to luxury saloons.
Upon entering any of its 116 rooms, the final courtyard reveals itself as an illuminated box of metal mesh, which houses the bathroom. Bedroom surfaces are lined in panels of light-hued timber, complemented by rattan screens that can be drawn across to provide additional privacy to living spaces. Headboards and rugs are in shades of mauve or chocolate brown. This transformable volume both defines the circulation of the space but also how you interact and live inside the room, from open and revealing to closed and private; a literal sanctuary in the city of Beijing.
A true oasis in the heart of the city, The PuXuan Hotel and Spa is an unpretentious gem in the very heart of the Chinese capital, celebrating a design aesthetic straight out of the city in which it was born.