Along the edge of a lovely road called Peach Tree Road, in Tibet, China, a beautiful natural landscape has been transformed into the home of the Sanzee RV Self-Driving Campsite, which was conceptualized, designed, and built by CM design.
The actual plot of land that the campsite calls home sits on an embankment that was naturally formed by the twisting of the Yarlung Zangbo River. This gorgeous area is dotted with clusters of shady, beautifully sprawling willow trees and provides visitors with a 360 degree view of the breathtaking snowy mountains that completely surround the area on all sides.
Those are not, of course, the only natural elements that make the scenery around the campsite practically irresistible. The site is also home to countless ancient peach trees that range in age from 300 to 500 years old. Gesang flowers grow all around these, in amongst the various kinds and sizes of rock, as do miscanthus, different mosses, several types of ferns, and other green shrubs.
Despite sounding quite rural, the campsite is actually pretty accessible. Right not, it sits just south of the Lalin portion of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, which is soon to open and which will make the site even easier to reach for those who don’t drive. This makes it a great vacation spot for international visitors.
Right from the beginning, designers based all of their concepts on the idea of respect. More specifically, they wished to respect both the culture of the area in Tibet they were building in, as well as the natural integrity of the landscape they were building upon. They is what the close relationship between nature and architecture, which can be seen clearly in the finished product, was born from.
The utmost priority during the building process was preservation, particularly of the ancient peach trees. Where stones could be spared from their original locations, they were put to reuse in building structures and roadways so that the new elements of the site would blend in well with its stunning location, in a way that forms some kind of organic bond.
Where the structures aren’t built from the very stones that were repurposed where the natural landscape could spare them, they’re formed from steel. This gives the buildings that are accessible to the RV parking spaces strength and weather resistance, but also prevents them from clashing with or distracting from the natural surroundings, continuing that blending goal that designers upheld right from the outset.
This steel and stone combination is also what makes up the sign and gates that constitute the main entrance of the campsite, creating a sense of consistency throughout the location. The height of the entrance adds a sense of grandeur to the space in the way it mirrors the height of the trees, making it stand out without overpowering the beauty of what people really come there to see: the natural landscape.
The wall of the entrance continues around the outsides of the park, but in a way that is interesting, cohesive, and unique. This is thanks to the way designers actually incorporated natural elements on the outskirts of the park into the wall itself. In several places, for example, the newly made wall stops for a natural rock or tree, leaving it space, and then picks up again on its other side, lying flush to the edges of whatever the natural landmark is but without hurting it or interrupting its natural beauty.
The manner in which the wall incorporates natural elements has a few multi-faceted benefits besides just continuing that ongoing goal of blending the campsite into the landscape. Firstly, it saves on materials to let the wall work with these things, rather than extending it to go around them. Secondly, it creates a lovely visual effect that looks rhythmic, dynamic, and dimensional.
Walking paths that weave throughout the campsite and allow visitors to take full advantage of the beautiful location they’re staying within pay similar respect to the landscape’s elements, particularly the peach trees. Site builders avoided clearly anything in the path’s creation, weaving it around and through any parts and patches that could safely host the path instead. The direction of the path was, therefore, largely determined by things like the location of flowers, the density of trees, and the natural meandering of the river.
Even the construction of the reception centre was designed with an homage to the landscape in mind. It was created in a modular sense through the stacking of natural metal shipping containers. These were strategically placed and built up in ways and directions that suited the height of the natural stone, looked cohesive with the mountains, and simply created shaded courtyards and even a barbecue area without taking up or requiring the clearing out of anymore natural space than necessary.
Smaller details help to integrate the reception building more visually with the land as well. For example, flower pools boasting blossoms that were already native to that specific area have been built up outside and all around while steps, wherever they were required, are built from locally sourced but repurposed wood.
Following suit with everything else built on the campsite, the infinity pool that was built off the reception building, just above the edge of the Yarlung Zangbo River, was built in a way that visually reflects the beauty of the landscape and mountains, but also avoids interrupting and detracting from its more immediate natural surroundings. Its edges and stares were made, as before, from locally sourced reclaimed wood and so were the benches around it. These spaces together create a stunning vantage point for enjoying the scenery, socializing, and resting.
A short distance from the reception building but past the RV parking sits a multi-level tent camp. This was built in a way that works with the natural undulation of the land, but using an anti-corrosive wooden platform to even out the actual ground on which the tents sit, for comfort. These unique plateaus provide unparalleled views of not just the Xue Ga Ru Snow Mountain and the river, but also the vast and starry night sky.
Photos by Zhi Xia