Facing the blue, and surrounded by the green, there lies a place of dreams. Well, my kind of dreams! During my travels in Taiwan I came across a special building.
Stone ladder bay 118 or Adagio Reindeer (石梯灣118民宿), is a bed & breakfast in Hualien county and the work of the architect Chen Guanhua (師陳冠華). It’s hard to find much on Chen Guanhua online as most information are in Chinese but google his name in the his native tongue and you’ll be blown away by images of his work.
Having strong traces of brutalist architecture and concrete based, he seems to be in pursuit of harmony with the surrounding nature. His approach is through roughness and imperceptible imperfections that create a sensation of time slowing down. The building feels to be changing shape and mood with different light and weather and it sleeps with its residents when the night comes. It’s hard not to be reminded of Tadao Ando’s design (Japanese architect) but I’m not sure if he’s been an influence.
The exposed cement façade captures the trajectory of time, standing strong facing the changes of nature. The interior maintains the same qualities and having left the concrete bare, feels very minimalistic.
Previously an interior designer, who wasn’t satisfied by the limitation of just working on the inside, Chen Guanhua’s focus seems to be mostly be on the exterior where cement and glass are slapped together to create not just a space, but a what feels like a poem or a piece of music.
I found a place to be a charming stay. It’s not a luxury hotel and not to everyone’s taste, but the size of the room and the facilities, amazing views, and the one staff managing the place were all to my satisfaction. A special highlight was the breakfast prepared so beautifully everyday it was hard to eat cutting through that hypnotizing presentation!
Stone ladder bay 118 is just one of a series of houses in a similar style along the coastline designed by Chen Guanhua. Right next door there is “Desert Style” (沙漠風情).
The owner of the place, Gao Yuanzhen, asked Chen Guanhua to design a place that feels like somewhere to escape from the city. She had travelled to more than 40 countries around the world and influenced by those experiences, wanted a simpler life less burdened by the materials and the chaos of the city life. A place to reconnect with the sea and the mountains. Somewhere perhaps to rethink one’s life choices and make changes. She was pleasantly surprised by the Chen Guanhua’s design and found the simple structure quiet powerful.
While a little similar to 118 from the outside, this is a whole different space from within. Feeling a little darker and somehow more modern, the whole place is also a gallery displaying a lot paintings, pottery and sculpture all over.
There are also many communal rooms consisting of a study, a library, a dinning room and a living room. The building is very literally is getting eaten by the nature giving it a very hidden feeling and providing a further layer of isolation from whatever you need to get away from!
To me, Stone ladder bay 118 felt like somewhere to get inspired by and Desert Style a space to relax for a few days and then get some work done! They are both incredible places to visit and I wish to return one day.
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