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Clinging to the riverside, opposite Peach Blossom Island, is a restaurant in the scenic Tianmen Mountain area of Guilin, China. The Tianmen Mountain Restaurant is oriented as a viewfinder with a façade that is 80 percent glass for views in all directions – including up towards the sky. The fractured façade of the small restaurant fragments and reassembles magnificent panoramas of forests, bamboo groves, the river, and mountains. The concept by architect Liu Chong was to create a unique experience through the combination of the natural environment and the manmade structure. The 627-square-meter interior space contains dining space, a kitchen and bathrooms. On the restaurant’s interior, steel beams support the roof and also accommodate strips of clerestory windows which bring in natural light and views from above. Interiors also feature woods from local fir in a vernacular style that provides some warmth to this very angular steel and glass building. The building’s triangulated envelope is perforated on all sides, opening up the interiors to the surrounding landscape as light falls in from all sides and is reflected from the river below. The restaurant hugs the shore of Guilin’s serene Li River. Due to such close proximity to the river – the building is literally on the bank - the ground floor is elevated to respond to changes in the water levels during seasonal flooding. Architect Liu Chong writes: “one’s perception is surrounded by the combined power of building materiality, natural lighting and adjacent landscape. This new sense is generated by the juxtaposition of the building merging with the natural surroundings.” (Scroll to bottom for additional resources)
Guilin is famous for some of the most beautiful and recognizable landscape in the world with its dramatic towering limestone cliffs and lush forests lining the Li River. Tourists from all over the world come in search of such landscapes depicted in traditional Chinese art and in contemporary films including Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith where an entire planet’s environs were modeled after chains of photographs of Guilin’s rounded, irregular mountain peaks and tree tops.
Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park
Tianmen Mountain became a National Forest Park in 1992, and 90 percent of its territory is vegetation with rare and medicinal plants and giant trees in the virgin forests. Tianmen Mountain is at an elevation of 1518.6 meters, and is 8 km from the downtown of Zhangjiajie City. Attractions in the park include the 7.2-km Tianmen Mountain Cableway, Tongtian Avenue (Avenue toward Heaven), Tianmen Cave (Heavenly Gate), Tianmen Temple, Tianmen Academy, Ghost-valley plank road, and Yunmeng Fairy Summit. Heavenly Gate Mountain is named after the immense natural cave – actually a large rock hole - halfway up the mountain and a 500-year-old Buddhist temple is nestled in the mountain attracting thousands of prayers every year.