Arquitectura Viva
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

ZAO/standardarchitecture, Visitor Center in Pai Town (Tibet)

Pai Town is a small locality southeast of the Tibet Autonomous Region, in a rough wild zone characterized by Himalayan peaks. Prominent among them is Mount Namcha Barwa, rising 7,782 meters, which is surrounded by a deep and rocky 400-kilometer-long gorge at the bottom of which the Yarlung Tsangpo River flows.

In the foothills of the mountain is this almost secretive visitor center. It is reached by means of a winding road and its complex program (reception, public toilets, specialized store, bar, clinic, changing rooms, meeting rooms, offices for guides and drivers, water tank, and power plant) is intended to provide hikers and climbers with everything they might need to practice their sport with minimum guarantees.

Embedded in the hill, the building presents five parallel bands, each one containing a particular part of the program. They are delimited by massive walls a meter thick and clad with local stone, in such a way that visitors arriving at the site are hard put to distinguish the artificial from the natural landscape. Stretching out like retaining walls, they separate inside to form the center’s circulation spaces, the communal zones, and the different facilities, and are perforated only enough to capture breathtaking views of the Tibetan summits around.
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