Sky Retreat


The project that we would like to show you is currently in progress and is the result of collaboration with architect Rubén Páez, and the Phd anthropologist Zhou Lei, professor of Nanjing University, co-founder of Oriental Danology Institute, and co-founder of the I World Water Source Summit in China.

Our installation is located in Yushu, Qinghai, where the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Mekong River come together. It is a gorgeous place, full of natural resources and the water source of 2 billion people.

The main purpose of the project is to see how art, design and architecture can create and help the economic, social and cultural development of this area, with an effort to co-exist in harmony with the rich and fragile natural ecosystem of the region.

There is also a second goal to this project: The Umbilical Cord Project wants to see how it can also create synergies between the usage of the Yangtze River in Qinghai, which is still “under relative development ” and the existing development of Yangtze river at the other end in Shanghai: paradigm and the mirror of Chinese development.



Qing-Tibetan Plateau inhabitants have thousands years of dialogue with the Landscape. Nature is in the centre of their life, and they have developed a system of belief to be in harmony with it.

They don’t fight against the nature, they flow with it. They don’t mark the landscape to conquer it, because their battle is spiritual.

Every mark is expression of respect, every carving a wish of goodness, every installation with all bright colors fill of high vibrations the air.

The mountain, the river and the sky are their source of live. They never forgot, and any intervention on it should be meaningful. They are committed to the future, because their time is not longer than the nature.



In our design, we encourage people to discover the infinite sky and explore the richness of cultural and religious textures of high-plateau region, rather than objectify this region through utilitarianism perspectives.

We’d like to create new structures that enable the urbanites to treat the Rivers and Mountains as a holistic presence and bring them a space-bubble where be suspended in the landscape.

Transparent Glass is the thinner protection we can use to preserve from outdoor our viewer and water in movement the most efficient insulation material we could find in the region.

We want erase boundaries, so we search for a round shape, and we discover eggshell as the most efficient round shape we could find in the nature



Our design is a “nutshell or eggshell” shape, it’s an ecological manifesto that has been “put into nutshell”.

We call this structure “Aquatecture”: waterborne structure, it’s concrete, physical, at the same time, ideational and dialogical.

We’d like to challenge the constructors in upstream parts to think what kinds of technologies and materials they should use to build the source of Great Rivers.

In terms of materials, our Aquatecture can be defined by Three-S: (water) Source-conscious, Solar driven, and Silicon encrusted.  In this eggshell shape ecosystem, we have synergized the following technological combinations, such as geo-thermal, water circulation for heating and cooling, membrane technology, carbon neutralization, convertible and sustainable materials, semi-levitation structure, architectural soundscape and aquascape, etc.

To call it Aquatecture, we put emphasis on the water-efficiency, energy efficiency and low-water possibilities, therefore, we trying to differentiate power from energy and original life-giving force that finally sustain human beings.



We understand the concept of self-sufficiency in terms of sustainability, a model for a contemplative dwelling development, a model to be able to reverse the dependent processes. A model of temporary self-sufficiency that interact with the environment in a different way, a new model for the speculation and the experimentation..

We think in an intelligent use of available resources and in a new interconnected model. We think that the self-sufficiency model is one that is connected to the local paradigm and knows how to respond to the social and cultural environment.

The primary objective is to minimize the construction process using systems as industrialized as possible, using efficient systems both in construction and in the energy part of the pavilion.

We want to develop architecture without imprint on the landscape, using modular elements with an assembled construction system.

The structural system is made of laminated wood structure in curved pillar and horizontal rings. The metallic basement is the foundation base and the core facilities location. To access the unit, you have to climb a ramp, which elevates the pavilion minimizing the impact on the ground.

The interior unit is the centre of the eggshell, with the space services (storage, bathroom and living). A wooden spiral staircase it takes you to the top of the interior unit: the contemplative space. A place to sleep, observe and contemplate.

For the external skin we use a technological membrane. A double water-air chamber glass curtain wall insulates the interior from the exterior, and a sun ceramic protection slats with photocells protects from the sun radiation.




Year: 2015- In process

Location: Different Location, Yushu Prefacture, China

Author: Gabriel Gomera ( Principal ) , Ruben Páez ( architect ), Zhou Lei ( Phd. Antrophology )

Rendering: Eduard Villaronga

Video: Eduard Villaronga




Gabriel Gomera, Ruben Páez, Zhou Lei


Yushu, China


Eduard Villaronga

Architecture, Contemplative Rooms
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