Guangxi Yan is a Fantastical Restaurant by Wuxing Youxing Space Design in Guangxi Reminding Us of Nature’s Best

Many traditional Chinese may have a similar vision of what the perfect landscape looks like: above a vast expanse of misty rippling waters surrounded by lush forest, people are fishing and singing at sunrise and dusk. To experience this in reality, there is nowhere closer than Guangxi…

The fascinating landscape of Guangxi is an unparalleled gift from mother nature. Hidden behind mountains, Guangxi, which used to be a part of Baiyue region (the south of China in a broad sense) in ancient times, is renowned for its spectacular scenery. In this incredible land, abundant hills and mountains sprawl in the south and five gigantic peaks meander in the north. Towering and overlapping hilly terrains intertwine with rivers flowing among and through. The renowned Lijiang River, which resembles a jade belt among mountain ranges, extends 164 km through Guilin and Yangshuo, contributing a magnificent landscape. As a poet once described, "As the boat sailing on green waves, I'm touring in a fascinating painting", the aesthetic view of Lijiang River has been highly praised for over a thousand years”. Modern urban dwellers nowadays live in skyscrapers so it’s easy to forget the breathtaking land beneath our feet. This restaurant project - Guangxi Yan - is a miniature version of "mysterious Guangxi" bringing the marvellous natural landscape to the bustling centre of the city, while entertaining and welcoming guests.

Spanning close to 20,000 square feet, the restaurant Guangxi Yan conceived by Wuxing Youxing Space Design, adopts traditional Guangxi cultural elements as the design thread to unify the overall spatial design. Numerous representative local elements are presented in the space after systematic concentration and artistic analysis. The journey from Guangxi landscape to the dinner table reveals distinctive regional features, and enables diners to perceive the brand's values within the immersive ambience. The facade of the restaurant resembles a sumptuous drum tower - a representative topology of local traditional architecture. When entering the hall, guests are greeted by two roofless Zhuang houses featuring mortise and tenon structures. This roofless design is derived from the tradition of Zhuang people, who invite honourable guests, relatives and friends to join the banquet held in newly roofed and built houses for celebration. The hall is where the Guangxi Yan unveils its prelude.

Wuxing Youxing Space Design's Wei Zhixue

As far as one’s sight reaches, Guangxi elements are everywhere throughout the space. The landscape of Lijiang River, rock paintings of Hua Mountain, Longji rice terraces, Zhuang silver ornaments, bronze drums, Zhuang brocade, Zhuang tie-dye, Zhuang embroidered balls, Zhuang people's March 3rd Festival - all these elements seem to be independent from one another and each has its unique system in separate spaces, yet they remain connected in the ethnic culture of Guangxi. Behind the door of each private dining room, there is a unique mysterious realm revealing diverse Guangxi culture. Modern expressions are adopted to translate traditional elements, which is the key of the design. The partition in the atrium extends from the first floor to the third floor, producing a magnificent effect. Made of translucent, ink-wash resin materials, it mimics local karst topography characterised by undulating mountains and winding rivers. As the line of sight extends, the partition seems to undulate as rolling hills and flowing rivers. The micro mountain and water landscapes, which are elaborately designed yet arranged in a seemingly random way, echo the partition, whilst also showing the fusion of the real and the virtual and bringing in nature. The overall design recalls a picture of distant mountains, gurgling water, lush trees and grey stones on the land of Guangxi. With twisting roads, streams, bridges and house elements around, the space portrays a picture of people holding a great banquet to celebrate the completion of a new residence. The objects and emotions resonate with each other.

Traditional elements, meanwhile, are showcased in an unconventional and unique form, such as the sculpture that depicts a distinctive scene, the characteristic pattern of the Zhuang brocade embedded in the staircase handrails, the curtain decorated with Zhuang silver ornaments, the bronze drum-shaped lighting fixtures, the thematic art installations on the wall, and the traditional symbols inlaid on wood and carved on stones, all of which well blend the regional ethnic features with Oriental ambience. Traditional scenes, such as hydrangea flowers that a imply warm welcome, the bronze drum worship ceremony and the Gexu Singing Festival held on March 3rd, are extracted and translated into scenes through abstract expressions, so as to inherit local millennia-old cultural heritage and showcase the pride and glory of the Zhuang 2 minority. Guangxi Yan creates a splendid space empowered by engaging natural landscapes and the rich culture of Guangxi. Local scenery, history and humanistic aesthetics nurtured by breathtaking scenery are converted into dining scenes. The design of this restaurant is like a hidden treasure waiting for guests to explore and unveil all the layers of its beauty.

Words: Emily Leung & Nikey Cheng
Photos: Pan Jie
Published on August 18, 2022