Igloo in the Sky: PeNDa Designs Duplex Penthouse at Zhangjiakou Ski Resort
In the mountains north of Beijing, a ski resort called Zhangjiakou, a contender for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, is experiencing rapid growth, as China’s newly wealthy citizens discover an exhilarating sport while seeking relief from the thick smog of the capital. Among them are an art-collecting husband and wife who bought a duplex penthouse in a new apartment tower there. The couple then hired the architecture firm PeNDa to design the upstairs of the penthouse for their own use and the downstairs as semiautonomous quarters for guests.
Throughout the 1,800-square-foot lower level, the white walls and ceiling undulate like snowdrifts—but are warm to the touch, thanks to radiant heating. “Though you’re reminded of the cold, it’s actually very cozy,” PeNDa principal Chris Precht says. His fellow principal, Sun Dayong, adds that the plaster was intentionally hand-applied to the gypsum-board “to get tiny imperfections.” Computer modeling made construction of the complicated-looking curves possible in a mere three months.
Other walls are paneled with fir, the same wood used for floorboards. And all the walls appear to float above 2-inch baseboard reveals fitted with LEDs. Cove lighting is also LED. “In an igloo, you don’t have direct sunlight,” Sun points out.
Straight off the slopes, guests can stow their skis and boots in wall-mounted racks at the entry and in a dedicated cloakroom. Around the corner is a living area with a kitchenette. The rest of the floor plate contains a jigsaw puzzle of seven bedrooms and six bathrooms.
The largest bedroom, at 270 square feet, seduces with a whirlpool in the en suite bathroom. At just 65 square feet, the two smallest bedrooms offer futons tucked into elevated niches. They’re Precht’s tribute to the secret hiding spots in an elaborate childhood playhouse built by his carpenter father.