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The Rebirth of Ancient Chinese Philosophy of Daoism in Kuansan Town Restaurant by MUDA Architects

Anabata Media · August 31st, 2022
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Recently, MUDA Architects completed the construction of the Kuansan Town Restaurant which is located within the Qingyang Palace. This palace is a Daoist Temple complex located in Chengdu, China. This restaurant adopts a concept inspired by the ancient Chinese philosophy of Daoism. The design expresses an extraction from the depiction and interpretation of the 'valley' (emptiness and nothingness in reality) through the application of 'water' (the active flow that fills and nourishes the 'valley') to reconstruct a narrative of distance and a sense of place.

View of Kuansan Town Restaurant from the east side, from the Qingyang PalaceView of Kuansan Town Restaurant from the east side, from the Qingyang Palace.

First, the part of the restaurant that describes Daoist terminology is the south entrance. Located beside the ring road near Qingyang Palace metro station, this door can be called a starting point to start exploring the space experience of Kuansan Town Restaurant. Holding the Wuji terminology of 'gate of primordial origin', this southern entrance represents pre-existing chaos, originating from something formless, undefined, and incomprehensible. When slowly opened, this ancient door with copper grooves on either side will feature a twisting red wall that is traditionally aesthetic and can lead guests into the 'valley.'

South entrance of Kuansan Town RestaurantSouth entrance of Kuansan Town Restaurant.

The central courtyardThe central courtyard.

Furthermore, in the middle of the Kuansan Town Restaurant plan, there is a square courtyard which was later modified by MUDA Architects to capture the horizon more gently yet boldly. Features such as a two-story terrace, winding spiral staircase, red glass railing, and water landscape, collaborate to form a re-natural central courtyard.

The central courtyard design also reminds visitors of traditional landscape techniques. The structural columns have been meticulously hidden in a row of columns capable of reconfiguring the visual experience for visitors. In addition, the curved edge of the spiral staircase is extended to the second level of the restaurant to create spatial tension on the terrace and accommodate views of Qingyang Palace from different angles.

Spiral stairway connecting the courtyard and terraceSpiral stairway connecting the courtyard and terrace

View of the tea room from Qingyang Palace through the red perforated fenceView of the tea room from Qingyang Palace.

This restaurant also has another entrance which is located on the east side. The east entrance is named Zhongmiao or 'the gate of multiple subtleties' because it symbolizes deep heritage and history as well as being a contemporary space that expresses traditional culture in a modern twist. So this door becomes an expression of unexpected transitions between spaces.

Although the outdoor spaces of Kuansan Town Restaurant already offer many spatial experiences, the interior is still designed with a variety of atmospheres. Starting from the Garden Room which offers the integration of nature and architecture through wood colors, a warm white color palette, and flexible wooden grille sliding doors. Against a backdrop of ancient pagodas and century-old ginkgo trees, this room can blur the boundaries of the inside and outside, while creating a permeable space that invites natural light and air.

Tea room with sliding doors open to the Qingyang PalaceTea room with sliding doors open to the Qingyang Palace.

Continuous room with flexible partitionsContinuous room with flexible partitions.

Meanwhile, Continuous Rooms built on the first and second floors can provide flexible services while maintaining a coherent appearance. The curved ceiling of wood grain, minimal decoration, flexible partitions, adequate lighting, and soft furnishings, allow this room to maintain its spatial order that should continue from the ground up. Lastly, the Tea Room is shaded by the leaves of the ginkgo tree around the bar, creating a bright, warm and serene environment. Why that is, the reason is that there is a three-level rectangular cut-out ceiling made of wood which is equipped with a layer of luminous film as the main illumination. As a complement, the sliding doors on the side near Qingyang Palace can be fully opened and create a place to enjoy coffee or dessert while enjoying the natural surroundings.

First-floor planFirst-floor plan.

Second-floor planSecond-floor plan.


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