Atour Village Public Restroom / GN Architects
Lijiang Shen, Hengxuan Cui
Text description provided by the architects. In Atour Village town square, the sight is captured by three themed buildings, no independent space for the public leaving restroom. Initially, the owner just wanted this feature, and it could appear inside any building, or be incorporated with the garage overhead. The starting point of most constructions is efficiency, to distinguish the majority and minority, the protagonist and the background, and then allocate the cost and design workforce, which was also a problem we were worried about. Because of the maintenance cost and site itself, most of the scenic bathrooms lack a bright and clean experience. However, we found in the survey data of some scenic spots that tourists’ complaints about restrooms are second only to the cost-effectiveness of tickets. The construction and management of public restrooms is a neglected bug in cities and cultural tourism scenic spots. We hope to solve this problem here.
Location Selection. There is a 7-meter-high cliff between the pedestrian street and the square. The architect eventually chose the site at the foot of the cliff, so that the opening of the bathroom yard faces the square, which is remarkably recognizable. From the upper pedestrian street to see, there is a white deep pit in the woods, which is the top of the building. The earth-covered top and plants together play a good transition, and at the same time avoid the direct landing of large steps between the street and the square.
The Courtyard. The architect used a courtyard to complete the connection with the main square so that the privacy and identification of the bathroom can be balanced. This enclosed yard is like a deep pit on the hillside, and visitors can only see the building after entering here. There are also two square courtyards embedded between the buildings to keep users’ vision and space well-lighted and ventilated.
Facade. The architect hides all doors and windows behind the arc wall, the four functional entrances are navigated with signs, and the façade uses arc-shaped white composite aluminum panels, which are vertically stitched together, and the 7-meter-high integral panel is very suitable for this single surface. In fact, this is our most important starting point. Under the rough outer walls and jungle cover, visitors enter a quarry pit that is being cut and polished. The sunshine pours down, which is bright and clean, and the seamless texture of the surface enlarges this experience.
Functions. Although there was no agreement on the area of the bathroom with the client, the architect still maintained restraint and intensiveness to avoid some redundancy of value justice. The design focused on adding the infant room and the third restroom, as well as the concealed treatment of air conditioners. Since no glass windows can be seen in the front of the yard, the lighting is arranged court on the shady side of the arc wall and in the small square courtyards.
The process. The early idea of the architectural scene design came from the stone gambling game, like the rough cut out of the weathered stone skin, the tourists suddenly enter into a pothole with a delicate industrial sense from the rough natural environment, with this moment of the “wow”, this contrast is what we want to create here. Under the overall rational restraint, there is a little romantic surprise, which constitutes the beauty of our life. The material of our schematic design has always been a matte finish. We made a sample board on the site, spliced the weld with a steel plate, polished it, and then made a smooth surface. The client did not agree with the effect when it was not yet completed. Due to the cost and time limit, we also hesitated with this material and later replaced it with a white composite aluminum plate. This has brought another effect. Surprisingly, after the completion, many people think that this is better than the glossy surface effect. Is this because the architect’s perspective is naturally different from that of other general audiences?
Thoughts. There is a question that has been pondered many times by us recently: among architects, clients, and tourists, whose evaluation weight do we care about? Are architects more urban influencers, problem solvers, or service providers? Different thinking weights will lead us to different perspectives. In this era, service innovation and overdesign are especially worth rethinking this initial problem. We have made the overall planning and parent-child center (flying carpet) of Atour Town. This bathroom is an additional design in the planning. Compared with large-scale public buildings, the difficulty of designing small buildings is not in structure and function, but the need to integrate their own functions to the environment in order to complete the overall puzzle, and establish a sense of role in the regional scene . We have entitled a silent and proud role for this small restroom, allowing tourists to experience a bright application scene and adding pleasure to the itinerary, which is what we would love to see.