Pavilion, Great Wall

TERROIR were invited to design a centre-piece Pavilion for The Great Wall Cultural Resort Development project at Ji County, Tianjin in China. 

Situated in the heart of the Ju River valley, the site has views in all directions so the surrounding mountainous landscape - none more compelling than the view over the sweeping river and plain below to the Huangya Gate of the Great Wall in the distance. The site also marks the midpoint between the planned traditional Chinese town district and Western town of The Great Wall Cultural Resort.

The project has emerged from our observations of the powerful surrounding landscape and related cultural practices within that place.

The building resembles a “basket” – a subtle reinforcement of Ji County’s renown as a “garden” of China. The basket seemingly rests lightly on the site, with the main projection to the Great Wall view cantilevered off the existing terraced platform.

The "basket" concept emerged from an observation that cuttings from the common fruit trees are often used for fencing. In this proposal the “twig” cuttings are deployed in a horizontal arrangement forming a continuous external skin to the building which constitutes the basket.  The building’s interior will be awash in dappled light through the permeable basket perimeter, except for key moments when the skin is peeled back or spaced apart to acknowledge key vistas. 

The physicality of the landscape itself has also impacted on the Pavilion form. The profile of the surrounding hillsides has seemingly been exaggerated to effect the shape of the Pavillion – pushing in on three sides to form the unique tri-winged shape. Each wing thus corresponds to specific site circumstance: visitors will enter through one wing which is a natural extension of the access road already up on to site; while the main cantilevered wing provides a frontal relationship to the valley view to the Great Wall; and finally the remaining wing kicks around to enable visitors to look down the river valley.

Terroir’s work is the beginning of a broader relationship between Ji County and RMIT University’ School of Architecture and Design who will draw on their international renown to bring together collaborative design partners to work as a community - rather than a series of individuals - on The Great Wall Cultural Resort Development Master Plan.

This project represents a special opportunity to bring together an innovative design effort to address challenges that while particular to China, are none the less also faced in other parts of the world including demographic change, rapid urbanization and the global challenge of living within our means.