PROL: Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu - Start from Heart and Return to Nature - The Hidden Light Series
Explore the light: look up at the bright moon with remembrances of light
Located in the heartland of the golden tourist area covering from the West Lake to Fuchun River and to Qiandao Lake, Tonglu is in the northwest of Zhejiang, China. Northwestward, it is the Tianxi Lake, which is a new water area formed in green hills and valleys because of reservoir expansion. Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu stands quietly on the banks of the peaceful and tranquil Lake.
Lighting Designed by PROL
Photographed by Zhong Yonggang
The clouds and mists in the mountains formed by the lake vapour skim over the lakeshore, drift over the forest tops, and slowly move in the rolling valley day after day. The Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu, which is surrounded by mountains and rivers, is covered by the ever-changing clouds and mists.The most beautiful time in a day to visit it is by nightfall. Driven along the winding roads in the mountains and forests and followed the soft lights in sight, it can be arrived after a few gentle bends and several layers of mist.
The lighting design of Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu was designed by PROL, the winner of the 2019 Lighting Design Award (LDA) in hotel category. Coincidentally, with this project PROL was once again shortlisted for the 2020 LDA in hotel category and became one of the eight candidates in the world. In addition, this project has also won professional awards such as the Gold Award of 2020 Meishang Award in lighting design category.
As the first company that proposes the idea of "exploring the hidden value of light", PROL focuses not only on the use of light to light up the hotel in the night, but also on how to hide the hotel into the forest through the overall light environment management, so that it blends with the mountains and rivers under the blue starry sky.
When the last sunset glow disappears with the wind, the mountain details on the bank of Tianxi Lake are concealed, rendering a freehand painting of the distant dark mountains and the mist over water nearby. The hotel rooms scattered in the mountains and forests gradually light up, adding a bit of warmth, tranquility and fantasy to this quiet and slightly cool image.
Design light: design darkness first
PROL believes that it is a design that requires restraint. Customers who choose to stay in high-end resort usually expect to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city in short course, healing their body and mind and regaining energy in a relaxing and natural environment. So, how to create the relaxing and pleasant atmosphere that customers desire? The challenge is to use light as the building material and medium to integrate the building into the natural context.
How to get rid of the stress from daily life for guests? PROL gives the answer: when design light, design darkness first.
The darkness in the designer's eyes is not the invisible darkness. What PROL pursues is to avoid excessive lighting and to create an environment where the eyes can feel the natural light of stars and the moon. A place where people can forget the problems of the world, sleep in the reflections of the lights on lake and the stars in the sky, immerse in gleam, mist and shadows of trees, and breathe with the mountains and waters, this is the Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu that PROL wants to present.
PROL also believes that the outdoor light at the full moon can meet people's lighting needs for basic activities. Therefore, they introduced the concept of moonlight into the resort design. By adjusting the brightness ratio of interior, building facade and outdoor environment, the designer skillfully handles the contrast and fusion of shade and brightness. Finally, through the connection and transition of light, the design effectively weakens the sense of boundary between the interior and exterior. Even the indoor area can enjoy the landscape.
Combined with the inwardly recessed herringbone overhang structure of the guest room building, PROL sets the lighting points in the recessed position of the eaves and the interior of building. Although there is no visible light source on the top and façade of the building, the light spilling over the eaves and corners inadvertently outlines and renders the simple and elegant shape and texture of the eaves and walls.
Buildings illuminated from the inside are scattered on the lakeshore and valleys. Light slightly outlines the front facade and overall shape of the building from the inside; while the roof and side facades are quietly blended in the moonlight. The clear and neat building blocks in the daytime are integrated with the night perfectly through the rendering of light.
The lighting design of the resort public areas also continues the relatively restrained style. The light source placed in the hidden part of the structure succinctly outlines the building structure; and the functional lighting is designed for the leisurely state of guests on vacation, which is arranged with appropriate brightness and darkness.
Every time at nightfall, some people say that Conrad Hangzhou Tonglu looks like a Chinese version of Santorini, and some people say it looks like fireflies in the mountains or a small town in the south of the Yangtze River...
The light does not accurately describe a scene. PROL reinterprets the building itself by designing recessive light and integrates it into nature properly. Therefore, Conrad has completely different scenes in different people’s mind, evoking hundreds of emotions.
Experience light: start from heart and return to nature
"Light experience must come from the heart and return to nature. This is the oriental metaphorical beauty, as well as the oriental philosophy."
Inside the hotel, PROL has designed lighting in different ways according to the functional differences of different areas. While meeting the specific lighting requirements of the space, it cleverly merges the light of different levels and brightness into an organic light environment. The light presented by the designer's wisdom is like a channel that reaches people's hearts. When guests stop in every light or dark scene, they can always go along this path to reach their heart, or return to nature.
The four tall trees enclosed by round sofas are undoubtedly the focal point of the lobby. The light source illuminates the canopy upwards, projecting the shadows of the trees on the ceiling. Light sources at high places are poured downwards. Thus, the shadows of the trees casually scattered all over the place, like the sunshine and leaves in the park in the afternoon. The unique light and shadow on the ceiling and the floor make the guests who enter the lobby still connected to nature even though they stay indoors. Because of the natural light and shadow extending into the room, the building has silently transited from the external environment to the indoor space.
When designing the lighting of the artwork, the surrounding space is deliberately weakened. When a guest in a relatively dark space encounters a display that is immersed in a beam of soft light, the light has already led the sight and thoughts to a potted flower, a painting or a sculpture. At that moment, life becomes so pure and peaceful; what surrounds is only the endless tranquility and the appealing beauty.
The lighting design in the restaurant is closely related to the gentle and light characteristics of Huaiyang cuisine. From the texture of the veneer and fabric, to the posture of the bonsai, and to the semi-transparent treatment of the simple and elegant grille, light transforms between light and shade, completing the narration of the space environment.
During the preliminary investigation, the designer noticed that the birds in the nearby village liked to stand in a row on the wires. As a result, bird-shaped wall lamps were designed on both sides of the swimming pool. From the village to the resort, light once again brings the outdoor life into the interior without a trace.
When it comes to the guest room, light has been retreated to a more secluded area. The hidden light strips on the floor and ceiling together complete the light weaving of the entire space. The soft and warm point light source further enhances the comfortable living experience.
The warm and soft point light source guarantees a comfortable living experience to the greatest extent. The decorations of natural materials cast shadows of undulating mountains on the wall. The large area of lake and shades in the evening in front of the windows blend with the interior lighting into a harmonious whole, as if it is just a shelter in village at an ordinary night, without any human involvement.
Building is a concrete existence that belongs to the daytime; while light relies on building and redraws and interprets the building after night falls. Because of light, the building can bloom twice in the dark night. Except for the drifting mist, the lightest and softest environmental element beside Tianxi Lake is the light hidden in the small gaps between leaves in the forest. However, it is this invisible light that penetrates into the hard reinforced concrete at one end, and blends into the soft bright stars and moonlight at the other end, achieving the interdependent and close dialogue between man and nature, architecture and environment.