Shadow Creek is the nickname chosen by the client for the new mansion built along a stream in the vicinity of Beijing. In effect, in this home-stage we can find the elegant combination of Tuscany twilight, compositional detail, references to the local tradition and Italian design furnishings selected for their outstanding workmanship. In short: the pleasure of things, expressed in a harmonious encounter between two cultures, West and East.
From Florence to Beijing, the ‘thinking hand’ of the architect Mauro Lipparini has worked on the quality of materials and a complexity of overlaps to rigorously update the layout of a large villa, on five levels, four above ground plus one basement, radically revised starting with the features of the facade.
“For the success of the project, a triangulation has been fundamental,” Lipparini explains, “through interaction and exchanges with the Chinese client, a tycoon in the field of hydroponic cultivation, and with the collaboration of Domus Tiandi (the local dealer of products by Baxter, Minotti, Poliform and other well-known brands of design Made in Italy).
“The original architecture, as often happens in China,” he continues, “was an anonymous pseudo-classical pastiche on a reinforced concrete structure, with lots of potential. The first time I entered, I was almost overwhelmed by the incredible height of the internal spaces, from the semi-basement to the attic. But those spaces were split up into many enclosed episodes. So I have reconsidered them as parts of a gigantic open volume, to be reinvented with dynamic compositional lines, to convey a completely different overall image.”
The first focal point was the staircase, a load-bearing feature and the spinal column of the internal vertical connections, in relation to open areas capable of interacting with each other, through contractions and dilations, two-story spaces, full and empty zones, shifts of light and shadow driven by balanced tones of color and luminosity.
“I wanted to design a staircase of great aesthetic impact,” the architect says. “Not just a functional passage, but a precious everyday companion, to observe from infinite vantage points, practically from every angle.” Lipparini has made it into a geometric kaleidoscope of treads and risers in refined rosewood with built-in lighting, expanding the physical perception of the space into a thousand facets. The ground floor contains all the daytime functions.
Next to the living area a majestic portico with a height of eight meters acts as an iconic threshold and filter between the facade, the external spaces and the interiors. The semi-basement, which opens to the garden at the back, has been transformed into a gathering place for socializing, entertainment and pure relaxation. It is a salon, a KTV space, a wine cellar, a dining room, fitness area and traditional space for the tea ceremony.
“To establish continuity between the various zones of the domestic landscape, from outside to inside, after a phase of intensive research we identified and utilized Italian travertine and a dark anthracite bronze-plated metal,” says Lipparini.
“They are the leitmotifs, in soft hues and shades of tobacco, which construct a forceful statement alongside exotic wood, rosewood or natural oak paneling. The facings add visual warmth to the house while amplifying the timeless atmosphere of an intimate, welcoming refuge to share with family and friends.”
The realm of the bedrooms, a place for cocooning par excellence, is nestled in the two central levels. The attic contains the most personal island: an atelier-study, a space for meditation, under a steep pitched roof that suggests the mystical aura of a Romanesque church, underscored by structured facings, exposed beams and built-in lighting.
Project Mauro Lipparini/Studio Lipparini - Photos Boris Shu and Zhizhou Zhang/courtesy Domus Tiandi