The new life of Alila Yangshuo

What was once a sugar mill is now a resort hotel boasting breathtaking views

by Rossana Vinci
30 Love 6790 Visits


Beijing-based Vector Architects have repurposed the 1960s Chinese mill as the ALILA Yangshuo, complete with contemporary structures that complement both the existing architecture and the naturalistic scenery.


Surrounded by picturesque natural landscape, in the picturesque region of China’s Yangshuo County, the premise of this project was to integrate the new with the old, paying homage to the unique history of these heritage buildings.

The site is surrounded by karst peaks, facing Li River to the south and a busy driveway to the north.

Horizontality of architecture and verticality of karst mountain shows interaction between the man-made and the natural.



Besides, the public walkway is artificialized and geometric version of pathway and cave carved into the karst mountain since ancient times. The ‘caves’ are carefully located so that they visually connect architectural space with natural mountain scape. Vector Architects designed the new buildings with a simple elegance, limiting distraction from the old sugar mill. The old industrial truss, which looks towards the river, has been repurposed as a swimming pool.



The  sugar mill now houses the hotel bar, cafe, hall, gallery, and library. The new buildings, which are arranged around a sunken plaza, have been constructed using contemporary versions of the methods and materials previously used, maintaining a cohesive relationship with the old mill. The guest rooms were built using hollow concrete blocks and board-formed concrete, a lightweight interpretation of the former materials.



Two circulation systems pass up and through the suite building: one being completely functional corridor system while the other serving as a free public walkway, connecting three important cave-like node spaces. The public walkway is the extension of the promenade experience on the ground level. Wandering around the resort hotel, guests experience the alternation of light and dark, change of framed landscape view, distance and elevation.




All photos by ©Shengliang Su



    ALILA Yangshuo 266

    ALILA Yangshuo

    Guilin / China / 2017