The Aluminum Mountain | Wutopia Lab

SAVE The Aluminum Mountain | Wutopia Lab

Project Name: The Aluminum Mountain

Practice: Wutopia Lab

Firm Location: Shanghai

Completion year: 2020

Gross Built up Area: 2453 sqm

Project Location: Guangdong

Lead Architects: Yu Ting

Design Team: Li Ziheng, Pan Dali, Kuang Zhou, Huang He

Clients: Ping An Real Estate Co., Ltd. & Fineland Group

Landscape Consultants: Z Studio

Project Manager: Pu Shengrui

Others: Project Architect: Xu Yunfang, Li Hao, Intern: Wang Ye, Xu Nan, Lighting Consultant: Chloe Zhang, Cai Mingjie, Facade Project Consultant: Florian Rochereau, Construction Drawing Design: Shanghai Southeast United Engineering Design Co., Ltd., Interior Construction Drawing Design: Alignment Studio

Photo Credits: CreatAR Images

More Specs

Excerpt: The Aluminum Mountain is an exhibition center designed by the architectural firm Wutopia Lab. The architect used the circle as his basic geometry in this design, based on Taoism and Taiji, as circles and cones were basic geometries to construct the mountain. An ambiguous mountain was preferable, which would consist of three smaller mountains, influenced by the Taoist doctrine.

Project Description

(“Text as submitted by the Architects”)

Wutopia Lab proposed The Aluminum Mountain in Mt. Luofu, Canton. It served as a Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Industrial Park Exhibition Center of Ping A Real Estate and Guangzhou Fangyuan Group.

If you see me, weep

It was pouring the day I visited the site. The rising mist blocked my view as I walked in the field. Then the rain grew so heavy that I could only stop my journey. Fortunately, it stopped as quickly as it had started. At that moment, Mt. Luofu, a well-known Taoist Mountain, surfaced. The moment of revealing hit me like a sudden appearance of a Chinese celestial palace. Like all poets and travellers, I named the moment “the sudden emergence of Mt. Luofu”.

Observing 3 Mt.s

Everything causes scintillation

It was precisely the moment that later proved a decisive one. A meme struck me when I caught sight of the reflections of Mt. Luofu and Taiping Mountain that faced the south of the site. The meme was a classical but spiritual one in the literature of the Chinese garden, which was “one sea and three mountains.” Immediately I decided that the fish pond should be remodelled. Along with two other mountains, an artificial mountain serving as a presentation centre would form a new version of “one sea and three mountains,” an earthly paradise.


Find the beauty, be still

I can explain why I used the circle as my basic geometry in this design, based on Taoism and Taiji. Circles and cones were basic geometries to construct the mountain. An ambiguous mountain was preferable, which would consist of three smaller mountains, influenced by the Taoist doctrine.


These are hollow mountains  

The ‘slivering’ aluminum board would be an ideal material for the mountain. There should be a moment when the heavy mass and texture of the aluminum material ‘dissolves’, providing a perfect foil for the lightness of the mountain. Thus, I used three different aluminum boards with perforation rates of 45, 60 and 70. Hence, the mountain behaves from dense to sparse from top to bottom. The effect was that the mountain looked overwhelmingly heavy most of the day but lost its massive look when perceived from certain angles. At night, with the lights on, the mountain would lose its materiality and be transformed into an enormous mountain of the lamp. In this way, the mountain assumed an ethereal look.


Touching the void

My first view of the floating Mt. Luofu kept coming back to me. It seemed reasonable that I wished to design a mountain that hovered as it did. Not only did I place all functions underground, but I also introduced a gigantic metal roof supported by six concrete columns as its body and placed luminous films on the bottom. As a result, when the light films were turned on, the mountain could really “hover”.


Ruckles are delicate, unpredictable structures.

Six concrete columns supported the Aluminum Mt. To build this 880-square metres with a cantilever structure up to 10 metres, 30 tons of iron truss were applied to shape the subtle and hovering peaks. The 11.9 metres spiral staircase was an independent structure travelling from the basement to the top. It was not easy, but the hard work made Mt. sliver.


If we are not exploring, we’re not doing anything

I designed a water path that led to the third mountain. The viewers could disembark at the round reception and get aboard a red boat at a dock surrounded by U-shape glass. Travelling past some flowery, round islands, they would arrive at the bottom of the mountain, where a staircase and a tunnel ushered them right to its interior. There they could view across the mountain bottom and the water and meet their upcoming path in the gentle breeze. Then they could enter a big, round sunken garden by a spiral staircase or a lift placed at the entrance to the underground.

Ink the Mt.

This world is a mere mist and silk

In the Aluminum Mt., I would prefer to apply the colour grey than marble and metal, the colour white or concrete. Grey is a perfect and subtle colour to present a continuous interior landscape as a Chinese Ink painting and echoed to the sudden surface of Mt. Luofu. A subtly dyed ‘mountain’ inside the Aluminum Mt was presented.

Slowed time

Take the time that needs to be taken

I wanted to create a slowed sense of time. I used continuous circles to form the underground space. This bubble-like maze included the foyer, display zone, video room, conference room, model exhibition space, art gallery, office and toilets. I hoped that visitors could lose their sense of time and space. In a layered maze, we might feel that time was slow. The central exhibition space was a triple-height space, serving as the highest mountain among the three. The other two functioned as sinology spaces and VIP rooms. The wind blew through the ground floor, underneath the third mountain. What was left was nothing but time. 


The path from the grave to the world beyond 

Through the artificial fog, the viewers would mount by a spiral staircase to the top. This was the second peak of the Aluminum Mt. They could follow the path and reach the top of the mountain. I used to imagine myself with Mt. Luofu and Taiping Mountain under my control. But today, I have become more humble. Looking at the mountains with the breeze blowing, I felt much better.

A Celestial Palace

Shadowing the edges of sight and spirit

The Aluminum Mt. was named the Third Mountain. Since it was constructed on Mt. Luofu, it should not become a sales centre that is eager to show off itself. It should present a lifestyle lost upon us, some dreams that we urban residents are dying to realize. In a humanistic space full of symbolic meanings, a space built with modern technology while exhibiting traditional wisdom, we are supposed to feel happiness. To bring a beautiful life: such is the meaning of the third mountain, a celestial palace of our time.



Read More: Architecture | Cultural Architecture | Temperate Climate | Wutopia Lab | Guangdong | China
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