Capsule Hostel and Bookstore in China wins World Interior of the Year 2021

Dec 7, 2021
  • Article by Charlotte Huston

Atelier tao+c’s Capsule Hostel and Bookstore in Qinglongwu, China, has been named World Interior of the Year at the INSIDE World Festival of Interiors.

The annual event, which runs alongside the World Architecture Festival, shines a spotlight on the people, projects and developments that are changing the face of global interiors.

This year’s winner was judged by more than 20 distinguished designers and editors from around the world including Studio Gang principal Jeanne Gang and Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans artistic director Frac Centre-Val de Loire.

The lobby space of Capsule Hostel and Bookstore.

Located in the forests of Tonglu in the Zhejiang province, the Capsule Hostel and Bookstore transforms a 232-metre-square home into a retail space and library with accomodation for 20.

This dual purpose was a particular challenge for the architects, who sought to reconcile the need for both privacy and openness by exploring the concept of a “building within a building”.

Bridges and skylights ensure the natural landscape is always brought into the interiors.

The property is divided across two floors with the ground allocated to a library and communal space free from partition walls.

Two independent “floating” structures have been placed above the library and equipped with 10 capsule rooms and one bathroom each.

Architects intentionally restricted this floating mass to a height that only enabled people to sit or lie down, accentuating it with staggered floor slabs to create an unconventional three-floor space with interesting perspectives.

The east facade of the building.

The exterior renovation further reflects the reorganisation of the interior spaces, with restrained openings on the wall to maintain the building’s original simplicity.

New glass windows with wooden frames were naturally integrated into the rammed earth wall, taking full advantage of the spectacular natural landscape of mountains and forests to the east of the building.

At twilight, the home is illuminated by the lights from the interior as the building itself becomes a lighthouse, offering a slice of warmth to the calmness of the night.

The frame view from one capsule.

In their citation, this year’s INSIDE judges were particularly impressed by the architects’ “sensitive and inventive remodelling” of a modest traditional building in a remote setting.

“A cross between a beehive, a climbing frame and a pagoda, this building is exceptionally skilful and entertaining,” they wrote.

“It’s a beautiful hybrid idea executed with poetry, sophistication and warmth.”

The INSIDE World Festival of Interiors is co-located within the World Festival of Architecture to form the largest live celebration of contemporary architecture and design in the world.

Copenhagen’s waste-to-energy plant CopenHill by BIG was named 2021 Building of the Year with the project’s landscape designers, SLA Architects, also taking home Landscape of the Year for Al Fay Park in Abu Dhabi.

Photography: Su Shengliang.

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