Cuisuba Yi Cultural & Visitor Center

West-line Studio

The concrete building, which resembles a traditional sacrificial altar, stands alone at an altitude of above 2,000 meters on a grassland plateau. The Cuisuba Yi Cultural & Visitor Center is designed to become a landmark to celebrate Yi people, an ethnic minority group mainly residing in the mountainous regions of South-West China.

The rough exposed concrete is defined by a distinctive wooden pattern. The construction system is based on concrete technology mixed with local sand; the sand mixture helps engrave the wooden texture given by the formworks, realized with recycled panels from declining Yi houses and local pine wood. The contemporary concrete architecture evokes the local traditional wooden houses.

The iconic concave roof establishes a dialogue with the sky through the skylight system and works as a rain water collector; the water vertically flows through the outdoor courtyards, creating a vertical connection of light and rain throughout the building, while solving the internal lighting and ventilation. The simple building mass is completed by a system of outdoor concrete ramps, which with their folding and undulating movement evoke the ascension procession over to hills during the ‘Torch Festival’, one of Yi main holidays.

The dark concrete interiors, characterized by a free plan where two structural units combine all the main service functions, together with the black window frames and ceiling help frame the outdoor landscape, making it the protagonist of the interior atmosphere; visitors become wanderers of the wild grassland and are immersed in a suspended time as gazers of history.