Businessman An Zhou designed his hotel, The Origin Villa, to help guests find peace and reconnect with family and the majestic surrounding land.
High in the mountains of Tonglu, where mist whispers through the trees and the Fuchun River winds below, the deserted village of Dashan has been transformed into a zen experience.
Businessman An Zhou left his corporate job to create an escape where those like him could savour lush landscapes, decompress, and stay without distraction in minimalist yet elegant surroundings.
When the sun rose from the valley below and washed the village in sunlight, Zhou knew this was the place for his project. His first step was to enlist Japanese designer Shinya Kojima, known for his minimalist Japanese style that evokes serenity.
“We would like our hotel to be designed as simple as possible, and avoid any unnecessary miscellaneous things,” Zhou says.
The name “The Origin Villa” was chosen because they repurposed materials such as terra cotta and brick from the original village in new ways to create the design.
The buildings of The Origin Villa follow along the natural contour of the mountain, each facing a unique direction with different views of the resplendent mountains.
The guest rooms are deliberately minimal. Light wood covers the floor of a guest room, with rammed-earth walls made from local soil, and natural linen furniture. The bed nestles in a corner for privacy, while the living room opens to the infinity pool beside a tented table. There’s no need for art or decoration, as every view provides access to the breathtaking vista of the surrounding nature.
“By carefully choosing the floor material inside and outside the building, it is our design intention to blur the boundary between interior and exterior and to blend and harmonize the guest rooms and landscape,” says the owner.
“[Windows] can be opened and closed freely, so the rooms can better blend into the landscape, and the landscape can be fully taken into the rooms,” Zhou says.
Guests are encouraged to remove their shoes when they arrive, so they can feel the natural wood beneath their feet. The open windows allow them to hear the sounds of the wind and frogs. They can also enjoy the aroma of the earth emanating from the diatomaceous clay used in the cave-like walls.
Another guest room utilizes local brick for the flooring of the living room and courtyard on the ground level. Floating wood stairs take you upstairs to the bedroom, with an exposed-beam ceiling, where the bed faces a panoramic window to view nature just outside. A small sitting area with a tea set encourages guests to sip thoughtfully while watching the mist travel between the trees on the mountains.
Even the light was carefully designed at the Origin Villa. Table lamps and free-standing lamps are placed throughout the space instead of uniform lighting from above, to create arcs of light and shadows that mimic nature and allow guests to appreciate details such as the smoothness of the rounded clay walls.
At the bottom of the staircase between the rooms, you reach the most stunning part of the hotel’s design, a tea room consisting of a rustic wooden table with benches set upon glass that reveals an infinity pool below. The table is tented in long bamboo poles that encourage you to appreciate your companion and the verdant forest below. At night, the table is lit brightly for festive gatherings, and when the light is extinguished, the pool provides perfect viewing for the stars of the night sky.
Guests seek the seclusion of Origin Villa to live simply and deliberately. The main attractions are the sunsets and sunrises, quiet contemplation in the shadow of the mountains, and reconnecting with each other.
As Zhou says, “Take here as a new starting point, find the original peace of mind from here, and find back the time that family members and friends once spent together. Then return to life with a better mood.”