The curve-forward design echoes the movement of water and the forms of the surrounding mountains.
Designed by Ippolito Fleitz Group, this restaurant, part of Chaohu Bantang Hotspring Town, takes inspiration from the history of the local hot springs.
The Bantang hot springs have been a popular wellness destination in eastern China for centuries. According to the Records of the Unity of the Great Ming (a comprehensive imperial geography of the Ming Dynasty from 1461), a hot and a cold spring merged into one another at this location, creating Bantang, which means half-hot in Mandarin. A recently completed restaurant—designed by Stuttgart-based Ippolito Fleitz Group and part of a larger development project called Chaohu Bantang Hotspring Town—taps into the regional landscape to create a dynamic and sculptural experiential space.
A large wall of windows looks out onto a large water feature and the mountains beyond.
“Our design is inspired by this piece of local history and aims to represent the flow and interplay of these two springs,” says Dora Anna Latkoczy, project manager at Ippolito Fleitz. “With their changing interaction, the hot and cold spring [inspire] different spatial qualities throughout the interior.”
The exterior architecture mimics the shapes of the regional landscape, which is full of mountains.
Paying respect to the ancient springs with contemporary design, the building utilizes curves and winding forms both inside and out. The exterior shell, with its swooping edges, is expertly integrated into the landscape, echoing the shapes of the nearby mountains.
Wayfinding throughout the restaurant nod to the curves of local streams.
Upon entering the restaurant at the upper level, guests are greeted with two paths: one path takes diners down a wide staircase, while a gallery passage leads past a lounge that offers a magnificent view over the landscape. The all-white interiors, which include cave-like cutouts and crevices, continue the geologically inspired theme, with green plants punctuating the dining area for added color and connection to nature. On one side of the building, a large glass façade gives diners views of a tranquil exterior water feature, and beyond that, three mountains: Baochanshan, Dabaoshang, and Xicang.
Interior architecture has a geologic quality, with nooks and niches that mimic the shapes that streams carve when flowing along rocks.
“We wanted to bring the visitors on a journey of discovery following the Bantang Hot Spring,” Latkoczy says. “The architecture gave us the impression of a pulled-up blanket revealing the secrets underneath the Earth. As a response, we wanted to create the interior as a fluid sculpture that can represent the flow of these springs beneath.”