On a northwestern Guizhou typical plateau, placed at an altitude of above 2,000 meters in-between untouched grassland hills and mountains, stands the Cuisuba Yi Cultural & Visitor Center. Completed in March 2021, the center was conceived as a landmark to pay homage to the Yi people, an ethnic minority group mainly residing in the mountainous regions and rural areas of South-West China. The building grows from a slope with a maximum inclination of 20 degrees, surrounded by mountains all around. Commissioned by the Dafang County Tourism Development Office in order to provide the basic structure to promote tourism in the area, the center aims to become a symbolic landmark celebrating Yi culture.

▼项目概览,general view ©西线工作室


West-line Studio has a long history in building cultural centers in Guizhou province influenced by local ethnic minorities; the practice’s approach has always been characterized by deep research on the peculiar cultural aspects of a particular community, which can result in rites, fabrics, patterns, construction techniques, festivals, and pictograms, in order to bring some of these unique features into the design, creating a strong bond with local culture and collective memory.

▼建筑外观局部,exterior view ©西线工作室


▼排水系统分析图,drainage system ©西线工作室

From thousands of years the Yi people have been considering the plateau a sacred place where to worship heaven and earth and celebrate the ‘Torch Festival’, one of their main holidays. The festival commemorates a famous Yi wrestler who used pine tree torches to stop a locusts’ plague. Symbolism has always played a significant role in West-line Studio’s work, and in this cultural center the connection with Yi ancient culture appears through many layers. First of all the building mass resembles the traditional Yi sacrificial altar, where sacrifices refer to offers. The building, in its simple volume, is characterized by an iconic roof consisting of a concave arc. This architectural gesture aims to show a response to the tension of nature, and again refers to Yi sacrificial symbols. The roof establishes a dialogue with the sky through the skylight system and the concave shape works as a rain water collector. Via the gutter system the water vertically flows through the outdoor courtyards, creating a vertical connection of light and rain throughout the building, while solving the internal lighting and ventilation. Another important feature are the outdoor concrete ramps, which with their folding and undulating movement evoke the ascension procession over to hills during the ‘Torch Festival’.

the undulating outdoor ramps and the hanging skylight ©西线工作室

▼户外坡道,outdoor ramp ©西线工作室

▼视野,view ©西线工作室


▼天窗和动线示意,skylights and circulation system ©西线工作室

The construction system is based on concrete technology mixed with local sand. The sand mixture helps engrave the wooden texture given by the formworks, realized with recycled panels from declining Yi houses and local pine wood. The rough concrete interiors together with the black metal window frames and ceiling help frame the outdoor landscape, making it the protagonist of the interior atmosphere. The three floors are characterized by a free plan where two structural units combine all the main service functions; this spatial production mode derives from the so called ‘group technology,’ typical of Guizhou mountain villages. The indoor hanging courtyard, with its red and yellow skylights, creates a holy atmosphere and a sense of ritual space from the contrast between the colored lights and dark space below. The indoor atmosphere is kept dark on purpose so the outdoor bright scenery can stand out; visitors become silent wanderers of the wild grassland and are immersed in a suspended time as gazers of history.

▼粗野质感的混凝土与黑色的金属窗框及吊顶框选出室外壮丽的风景 ©西线工作室
The rough concrete interiors together with the black metal window frames and ceiling help frame the outdoor landscape

▼室内空间,interior view ©西线工作室

▼天窗与楼梯,skylights and staircases ©西线工作室

▼室内天光,the light from above ©西线工作室

▼光影,light and shadows ©西线工作室

▼楼梯间细节,stair well ©西线工作室

▼室内坡道,the indoor ramps ©西线工作室

彝文化中心尝试了以彝族共同体社会的“仪式”结构同当代平行功能体系相整合的空间模型;以象征彝族仪式系统的片段组群同古彝族老木屋翻模的混凝土粗野工艺相咬合,建立云顶高原上族群匿名的无字丰碑 + “共识历史”的“助记符”结构,以拓片般的助记方式锚固族群共同体的集体记忆;以“孤峰+草原+群山”的地景结构成就宏大壮阔的场所意志,这是高原坝子上一片意味深远的历史印刻与时光共享……

The spatial indoor layout combines the ritual mnemonic structure with a more contemporary functional system. Yi Cultural Centeraims to become a wordless monument which stands alone resembling Yi culture through symbolism and in creating a ritual atmosphere.

▼建筑外观,exterior view ©西线工作室

▼崔苏坝彝文化中心,Cuisuba Yi Cultural & Visitor Center ©西线工作室

▼总平面图,masterplan ©西线工作室

▼一层平面图,plan F1 ©西线工作室

▼二层平面图,plan F2 ©西线工作室

▼三层平面图,plan F3 ©西线工作室

▼屋顶平面图,roof plan ©西线工作室

▼立面图,elevation ©西线工作室

▼剖面图,sections ©西线工作室


建筑功能接待区 、茶厅 、餐厅、彝文化祭祀与展陈区、办公区、设备用房

Cuisuba Yi Cultural & Visitor Center
By West-line Studio
Location: Dafang County, Guizhou Province, China
Practice: West-line Studio
Program: reception, tea room, restaurant, Yi culture ritual and exhibition area, office
Lead Architects: Haobo Wei, Jingsong Xie
Architecture and Landscape: Yudan Luo, Ke Zhou, Minghua Ou, Bin Liu
Structure: Yuanping Li, Dingping Fu
Project Manager: Xuanqin Gong
Client: Guizhou Province Dafang County Keteleeria River Tourism Investment Development Service Co. Ltd
Completion: March 2021
Site Area: 1,565 sqm
Building Area: 2,569 sqm
Floors: 3
Materials: concrete frame structure, black metal frame, insulating glas
Photo: Haobo Wei, Jingsong Xie
Credits: West-line Studio