Small strips of clay-coloured stone create textured, undulating facades for the houses in this Beijing development by UNStudio (+ slideshow).
The Fairyland Guorui Villa complex by Dutch office UNStudio occupies a site near the convergence of two rivers on the outskirts of Beijing, China.
The 56 clay-coloured residences, which were commissioned by the Beijing developer Guorui Group, sit along the edge of tree-lined boulevards that lead along a river bank.
"Like sculptures, the individual villas line the mix of orderly pathways and free-form structures oriented towards different views of the surrounding natural landscape," said the architects.
While each house is designed with a similar interior layout and dimensions, the shape of the facades differs from block to block.
The studio said: "Through the creation of these base elements, numerous variations are made possible, while keeping an overall balance and consistency throughout the development and enhancing the efficiency in the actual production and construction of the facade."
Curving cladding made from recycled stone was applied to the outer walls. The powdered and reconstituted stonework creates fluid forms that wrap around one block and continue onto the next.
The ridged finish of the facades is similar to the rippling texture used by Norman Foster in his design for the United Arab Emirates Milan Expo pavilion.
The walls conceal recessed balconies and windows, and create porches by the entrance to each home.
"Through slight transformations in shape – created by the slight twisting of the curved surfaces of the facade – rhythm in the elevations is created which adds continuity and further unifies the architecture with the landscape," said the design team.
"In addition, the clay colour of the facade fosters this intrinsic connection between built and natural environment."
The curving forms of the buildings in the Fairyland Guorui Villa complex take their cues from the surrounding rivers and planting. Several of the firm's previous designs are based on the shape of flowers, including an aluminium-clad pavilion for a horticultural exhibition and a digitally controlled home in Holland.
Roof terraces allow residents to survey the nearby rivers, mountains and tree-lined avenues that connect the buildings. Beds of planting around the base of each property help to embed the villas within the natural setting. Trees stretch up from these beds, helping to screen windows and outdoor staircases.
The Dutch studio, which has outposts in Shanghai as well as Hong Kong, previously developed a concept for a new business district in the city centre nearby comprising six glass-sheathed skyscrapers linked by aerial bridges.
Photography is by Edmon Leong.
Team: Ben van Berkel, Hannes Pfau with Markus van Aalderen and Shoujiong Zhang, Whenzen Yi, Fernie Lai, Yuchen Liu, Irina Bogdan, Cristina Gimenez, Gil Greis
Client: Guorui Group