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China’s New Holiday Homes

A vacation villa development on Hainan Island takes its inspiration from the country’s historic villages. In China, old is new again.

China’s New Holiday Homes


January 20th, 2012

Even as China continues to modernise and urbanise at an unrelenting pace, developers are devising ways to engage weary city inhabitants looking for fresh getaway options on home soil.

Enter Driftwood Array, a villa development by Sino-Ocean Land Hainan Corporation that takes its inspiration from the World Heritage Anhui villages of Central China.

The project is located in Haikou, a vacation destination on the northern tip of Hainan Island that has a climate similar to Hawaii.

Driftwood Array Villas

Driftwood Array has meandering streams, arched bridges, lush gardens and water features. To preserve the character of the Anhui village, which dates back thousands of years, there will be no automobiles on the streets and residents will instead be encouraged to traverse bridges, pathways, and paseos to get to their units.

US-based Robert Hidey Architects was chosen to take on the project.

“The firm researched resort projects with a residential scale as well as traditional Chinese architectural themes,” says Colin Liu, the firm’s studio director. “We recognised The Four Seasons’ resort in Hangzhou and Amanfayun as precedents for this project and we went through books and images to understand the symbolism of traditional Anhui architecture style in China.”

Driftwood Array Villas

To take advantage of the beautiful natural landscape and maximise the southern exposure, all major rooms and bedrooms feature windows on 2 walls.

Rooms have light-coloured plaster walls with pre-cast concrete trims while the exteriors are white or light buff-coloured stucco with grey or dark brown trim, and feature traditional Chinese grey clay-tiled roofs.

There are courtyards, private gardens and small pools, and exterior detailing such as cantilevered balconies are ‘hybrids’ that recall traditional Chinese houses and old houses in Europe.

Driftwood Array Villas

Designing a hybrid architecture style based on the aesthetics of historical villages in Anhui Province was a primary challenge, says Liu, and so too, the push to achieve “a fairly high density detached resort villa community that ensures privacy for all dwellings”.

40 units in the first phase of construction are scheduled to be completed by end January 2012.

Robert Hidey Architects

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