Time and geographical shifts are apt to have unhappy consequences for pure design forms, and the high style of Qing Dynasty imperial architecture in Northern China is no exception. Passing decades and fashions have seen the famous grand palaces and gardens in the north misrepresented elsewhere in a looser Southeast Asian-style or even a more simplistic Mediterranean look.
Original Chinese royal architecture and garden design provided the inspiration for the reinvented five-star Eadry Royal Garden Hotel in Haikou. The hotel was first built to celebrate the richness of Chinese architecture, but its proportions had been ill-considered and the result was more like a popular take on the original, with little attention paid to historical accuracy. Architect and interior design firm BLVD International undertook the revamp, with interior designer Honglei Liu at the helm.
"My goal was to introduce the magnificence of royal garden architecture to South China. However, at the same time I had to marry this refined style with the comfort and convenience expected by guests at a five-star hotel. To achieve this I had to look to the past and also to the trends in present day, five-star hospitality."
The work was detailed and comprehensive a new grand lobby was built, and the bar behind it substantially reworked. Along with new restaurants and facilities, the original ground-level gardens were dropped to basement level. While this meant that considerable structural and design work was required, the drama and enjoyment of these natural, yet symmetrical, oases was enhanced, Liu says.
"I wanted to create an environment where guests would feel they were in a truly regal space not some folk, pastiche or imitation product."
"The scale and the proportions of one of the largest temples in China was selected as a model for this scheme and then carefully manipulated to fit the three-dimensional spaces required for the hotel," says Liu. "For example, in the new main lobby, the rhythm of the column spacing was changed to create rectangular spaces rather than the square forms celebrated in classic courtyard architecture. At the same time, we sought to retain the feel of the traditional wooden structure."