In Guangdong, China, architectural practice Wutopia Lab has designed Aluminum Mountain, a new building for a traditional chinese medicine health industrial park exhibition centre in the region of the famous Taoist Mount Luofu. The project consists of three mostly underground cone-shaped buildings and is surrounded by an undulating landscape design by Z Studio.
When chief architect Yu Ting of Wutopia Lab visited the site for the first time, the weather was foggy. He then experienced his very first sight of the mountain as a “sudden emergence” which seized him with its beauty. Inspired by an expression in chinese literature, “one sea and three mountains”, he decides to design three through architecture, using the basic geometry of the circle and the cone, based on taoist philosophy. The main building material is silver aluminum, used to balance the heaviness of the building and the lightness of the elevations. Three different levels of perforation create a conical gradient applied to the shapes. At night, when the structure is lit, it becomes very ethereal and the shapes seem to hover. Most of the centre’s functions are underground, housed under a metal roof supported by six concrete columns. A 11.9-meter self-supporting spiral staircase crosses the aluminum mountain starting at the basement, going through the entrance and arriving at the top, where the artificial fog is pumped. Interiors echo the architecture, in a palette of grays representing the tonal qualities of indian ink paintings. Water surrounds the mountains and visitors can even take a small boat from the reception to the main center, experiencing the design of the place in a serene way and disembarking directly inside. The architect’s goal was to slow down time and create a “bubble-shaped labyrinth” through the complex. He calls it a “heavenly palace of our time”.