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July 19, 2009

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Design conventions ditched for spatial avant-garde hotel

BEIJING'S Sanlitun used to be famous for its bars and night life but there's now another reason to head toward this tree-lined street. The Opposite House, a hotel designed by celebrated avant-garde architect Kengo Kuma from Japan, has shaken up the established idea of accommodation to create a unique and exclusive place to stay.

It offers a spatial experience aimed at transforming through light and space the look and feel of this amazing place throughout day and night. No more conventions and boundaries for this estate where space and light are the master words.

The exterior glass walls with their green color scheme inspired by wooden-carved windows of the city's courtyards set the tone, making the structure stand out from the surroundings. The massive wooden doors that mark the entrance are yet another contemporary reminder of architecture typical of the city's hutongs.

No lobby or check in counter is to be found at the entrance, a vast and bright area opening up to the atrium creating solemnity and peace, making the visitor want to stay and wander around, enjoying all the design details in this vast area.

From the hundreds of light shaded wooden drawers, the unique art pieces like Li Xiaofeng's porcelain "Beijing Memory No. 2" in the lobby, famous controversial artist Wang Jin's fashion item "Dream of China," or the waves of fabric flowing from the top of the atrium, there is a lot to discover in this soft, intimate interior.

Architect Kuma says: "A small, luxurious, contemporary hotel is a very interesting balance of private and public. It has to offer hideaways with the comfort of home, yet at the same time create vibrancy where people flow through public spaces."

Guest rooms reserve a surprise even for the well traveled business person. From a dim lit corridor area leading to each door, one is greeted by a bright and welcoming feeling stepping into the strikingly open and simple room.

Simple indeed, yet every detail from the soft touch of the natural brushed oak floors and wooden bathtub to the fragrant amenities are a delight for the senses. The subtle touches of Chinese decor evoke a sense of place in Beijing.

The rooms are arranged in studios of 45, 70, 95 and 115 square meters. It also features a penthouse at 190 square meters over two floors including an extensive roof terrace.

While comfort, service and desire to stay best describe the hotel, the design is definitely shaking the norm, setting a new standard in the capital.


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