Thatched roofs, recycled bricks and bundles of sticks were used to construct this hostel on Shanghai’s Chongming Island, which Chinese studio RooMoo has organised around two existing buildings.

The site is surrounded by water and forests, creating a secluded rural environment on the island that’s located across the Yangtze River estuary from the vast metropolitan area.

Two buildings clad in recycled bricks and thatched roofs
RooMoo completely transformed two existing buildings using materials found on-site

The Som Land hostel was designed to integrate with this natural landscape and respect the local customs and traditions.

“The resort’s name Som Land comes from the traditional Chinese colour, the warm green between the mottled gaps in the tree shadows, representing a state of relaxation and slow-paced life,” said Shanghai-based RooMoo.

“In terms of overall space arrangement and planning, Som Land focuses on nature and humanistic traditions.”

Walls covered in recycled bricks in an unusual pattern
The buildings are clad using recycled bricks in a pattern based on a local cloth

The architects revived two old houses on the site, manipulating their existing forms and layouts to meet the new requirements while adhering to planning restrictions.

The larger two-storey structure that acts as the accommodation block was overhauled and extended to include an additional floor – now totalling 552 square metres.

Staircase with glass top
In the larger of the two buildings, the staircase was moved to the north side

“Because the original building has problems, it is necessary to adjust the old and inappropriate space layout and add new design strategies to provide reconstruction to match the new requirements,” said RooMoo.

While its perimeter footprint remained the same, the building was transformed both internally and externally.

Guest room with neutral tones and sticks on the ceiling
The rooms are decorated with neutral tones and natural materials

Planning codes limited the height of the eaves. So to provide extra space, RooMoo steepened the pitch of the roof so that the extra storey could tuck inside.

Large dormer windows create even more space on this upper floor, while balconies were added to the lower levels to extend these, too.

View from guest room into a tiled bathroom
Wood furniture and woven textiles connect the interiors to the rural setting

The staircase was also relocated to the north of the building, allowing three guest rooms per floor to fan around the glass-topped circulation core.

Each room has its own bathroom facilities, and some suites include a bathtub that overlooks the balcony and the forest beyond.

He Wei transforms traditional Chinese property into a hostelHe Wei transforms traditional Chinese property into a hostel He Wei adds portable plastic rooms to youth hostel in a converted Chinese house

Neutral tones and natural materials decorate the interiors, which feature wooden bed frames, tables and chairs, plus woven textiles and lighting.

Tree branches gathered from the site are framed into panels that cover parts of the ceilings in both the rooms and corridors, while bamboo poles partition the staircase flights.

Thatched building with a glass extension
The second building was extended on the west side with a glazed addition

“The guests staying can feel the space environment of non-machine standardised production, so most of our material selection is from nature and the local site,” said RooMoo.

The second single-storey building that was originally a tool shed was also completely rethought, becoming a reception and communal space where crumbling walls and a tiled roof once stood.

Dining area inside wood-framed glass structure
This building is used as the reception and a communal space for guests

As with the larger structure, the roof pitch was increased to its maximum allowed height and its boundary was also pushed outward.

The top of its gabled form was cut off and the flat plane turned into a window to allow plenty of natural light into the interior.

Strips of wood curve from the ceiling, while a central brick fireplace divides the open space
A central brick fireplace divides the open space

On the west side, a wood-framed glass addition is extruded from the building’s profile to face the water.

Inside, thin strips of wood swoop down and curve outward from the skylight, helping to distribute the light.

A variety of local products displayed on wooden shelves
A variety of local products are displayed in the reception building

A curvaceous brick fireplace and chimney stack are positioned in the centre of the open room to separate the reception area from a lounge and dining space.

Both buildings were re-clad in bricks recycled from the original structures, in a pattern based on local cloth that casts shadows across the facades.

Dining room of a hostel in China
Strips of wood curve from the ceiling to funnel in sun from the skylight

Thatched roofs were also added as a nod to the region’s historic building traditions. “In our practice, we tried to recall the traditional way of manual binding to build a roof of reed poles,” said RooMoo.

“Therefore, we hope to bring out the first impression of the sustainable concept and practice of earth materials returning to nature,” the studio added.

“The design treatment is to provide hotel guests with a warm and relaxing vacation with a deeper understanding of the local style of the environment.”

Gabled structure with glass walls glowing at night
The top of the gabled roof is cut off and covered in glass

Som Land is longlisted in the hotel and short-stay interior category for the 2023 Dezeen Awards, becoming the latest hostel in China to receive recognition from the program.

Previously, the Capsule hostel and bookstore by Atelier Tao+C in a small rural village was named interiors project of the year at the 2020 Dezeen Awards.

The photography is by Wen Studio.

Project credits:

Design team: RooMoo
Construction: Shanghai Guixiang Decoration Engineering
Lighting consultant: Shanghai Yiqu Laite Lighting Industry

Similar Posts