Opening on January 8, 2018, Amanyangyun will be Aman’s fourth destination in China and stands as tribute to a bold, 15-year preservation project that saw the relocation of a forest and the reconstruction of a historic village. As a result, an entire forest of ancient camphor trees and a village of antique Chinese homes are about to be presented as a peaceful sanctuary on the outskirts of Shanghai.
At the heart of the transplanted forest is the Emperor Tree standing at 17 metres, the tallest of its kind in China. It has stood for more than 1,000 years – but mostly in the city of Fuzhou in the province of Jiangxi, 700km from Shanghai.
In Fuzhou, construction of a new reservoir threatened the existence of thousands of camphor trees and dozens of homes dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Over the course of a decade, Fuzhou-born entrepreneur Ma Dadong and Aman worked together to oversee the transportation and replanting of 10,000 trees – including the 80-tonne Emperor Tree – and the stone-bystone disassembly and rebuilding of 50 antique houses. Reborn 27km southwest of Shanghai, these houses and trees now shape the soul of a 10-hectare retreat, Amanyangyun.
“We human beings with our short lifespan are nothing but a fleeting traveller at a moment in time,” said Ma Dadong, the entrepreneur behind this rescue and restoration project, and a native of Jiangxi. “As a guardian of the past, I realized the only way to protect and celebrate our history was by instilling a new life and purpose into these ancient homes, and to allow the sacred trees that surround them, to be animated with renewed spirit. Much like the ornate stone carvings and the stories they hold, this ambitious project will continue to recount and nourish the next generation with hopes and expectations for the future.”
Kerry Hill Architects have restored the 50 disassembled antique houses to create 26 ancient dwellings for Amanyangyun, integrating contemporary comfort into the 400-year-old fabric of the buildings. Many of the Antique Villas still bear the legacy of their bygone owners, in the form of ornate stone carvings and inscriptions that depict family hopes and histories. Thirteen of the antique dwellings, now four-bedroom Antique Villas, measure between 800 and 1,000m2, and include a private pool and Jacuzzi, as well as a courtyard – a signature feature of Chinese buildings of this age.
Twelve of the historic homes rescued and restored from Jiangxi have been converted into refined Aman Residences to own. As well as the Antique Villas, Amanyangyun provides 24 newly created Ming Courtyard Suites that complement their historic counterparts, offering guests expansive, light-flooded bedrooms and living areas characterized by refined wooden interiors and Aman’s signature Asian-inflected minimalist design aesthetic. Crafted to balance old and new, these 65m2 spaces each pay tribute to the structure of the classic Chinese courtyard home, with two spacious private courtyards attached to each.
The spiritual heart of Amanyangyun is Nan Shu Fang. Named after the royal reading pavilion in the Forbidden City, this cultural complex has been created from the final and most architecturally impressive antique building to have made the journey from Fuzhou. Enhanced with furniture crafted from the nanmu wood characteristic of Ming interiors, the pavilion is a modern-day recreation of the ‘scholars’ studios’ of 17th century China’s literati – a space to learn, contemplate and practice traditional crafts such as calligraphy, music and painting, or to watch one of Amanyangyun’s frequent Kunqu Opera performances.
Across the courtyard, six dedicated rooms have been created to host traditional tea and incense ceremonies, while, directly facing the entrance, the Emperor Tree stands. Amanyangyun’s guests are each invited to nourish the tree with water when they arrive.
The 2,840m2 Aman Spa, one of the largest and most comprehensive in the Aman collection, provides another escape for guests, while five restaurants positioned throughout the forest are designed with a combination of refined modernity, material simplicity and sensitivity to both the local environment and the culinary philosophy of each concept.
Set in a bamboo grove, the Banqueting Room allows for 200-seat receptions, conferences, weddings and special-occasion feasts with views through its floor-to-ceiling windows, while a 25-seat cinema offers classic film screenings.