What’s New in Chengdu?
In the high-tech hub’s Temple House, a 1,600-year-old monastery meets a modern luxury hotel—and of course pandas.
The stark contrast of old and new China is on view as soon as you enter The Temple House, which opened in the Sichuan capital of Chengdu in July. The wooden gate and 100-year-old bitieshi, the main heritage building framed on bamboo and named for the scholars who transcribed decrees from Qing dynasty emperors, are the frst things you notice. Just beyond that lies a boat-shaped gold wire reception desk and glass towers housing a modern hotel complex and serviced apartments—the third entry in the Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels’ House Collective. On one side of the buildings are the gray, decaying apartment blocks of the city’s past, on the other is SinoOcean Taikoo Li, a 1.2-million-square-foot retail complex ( jointly developed by Swire) with 300 luxury boutiques, including Cartier, Hermès and Gucci. And next to it all sits 1,600-year-old Daci Temple, one of the Four Eminent Buddhist Monasteries along the Yangtze River Basin.
Swire chose this sacred site to follow its Upper House hotel in Hong Kong and Opposite House in Beijing because of the continuing growth in Chengdu itself—currently one of the largest cities in China, with a population of 14 million. “Chengdu is a rapidly developing economy,” explains Swire Hotels’ managing director, Brian Williams. “And we’re seeing more investment in local infrastructure and government support for international companies relocating to the area.”
The design of Temple House recalls the city’s past as interpreted by the U.k.-based designers Make Architects, with bold dashes of modern elements. As Williams explains, the restoration of the bitieshi, the teahouse and the courtyard buildings housing the spa were undertaken in conjunction with the local design institute to maintain historical accuracy. The grand staircase that leads down to the courtyard from the