Lonely Planet Writer

Gaze out on the Chinese landscape from a yurt-inspired cabin

A stunning new visitor centre has been unveiled in Hebei province, China that marries modern materials with traditional design in order to create a unique, yurt-like structure that blends in with the surrounding grasslands.

The Mulan Weichang Visitor Centre in Heibei Province.
The Mulan Weichang Visitor Centre in Heibei Province. Image by Su Shengliang

Created by Huadu Architecture & Urban Design Group for the Weichang Kangyang Tourism Development Company, the Mulan Weichang Visitor Centre is built on a 275-square-metre site that offers beautiful views of the surrounding region. “Our main goal was to blend the building into this vast nature seamlessly. It was inspired by local architecture, and local material including old stone, second-hand wooden beams and rattans were used,” HDD Architects said.

The accommodation offers uninterrupted views of the surrounding area.
The accommodation offers uninterrupted views of the surrounding area. Image by Su Shengliang

The visitor centre is comprised of two double circles, a symbol of luck in China, while the shape of the roof is taken from traditional Chinese architecture. Inside, the two circles create the main space, while extended boxes jut out to become semi-public spaces. On the façade, wooden frames have been created in different thicknesses, joining to meet at a flower-like peak.

The building houses a library as well as a recreational area for children.
The building houses a library as well as a recreational area for children. Image by Su Shengliang

The main core of the building also serves as a local library, while the second floor houses a special area for children. A sunken living space has been included in the design in order to create a sense of intimacy, and the extended windows frame the landscape and offer views of mountains, rivers and grasslands, as well as local sheep. An open kitchen puts emphasis on a shared space, inviting guests to cook together and interact with each other.

The building is comprised of metal, glass and wood, blending traditional and modern elements together.
The building is comprised of metal, glass and wood, blending traditional and modern elements together. Image by Su Shengliang

With steel framing, triple-layered glass panels and exterior wooden frames that become a shading system, the building balances functionality with contemporary and traditional design elements. The area itself holds particular historical significance, with ancient Chinese emperors having used it to host autumn hunting festivals.