Photography: Shangliang Su

RIBA has announced the winners of its International Award for Excellence 2021, which aims to recognize the most "significant and inspirational projects around the world."

One of the winners, Alila Yangshuo, is a resort hotel designed by Beijing-based studio Vector Architects located near the Li River in Yangshuo, Guangxi.

The firm was tasked with creating a hotel on the site of the disused sugar mill, which was constructed in the 1960s and comprises a cluster of buildings alongside a truss used for loading sugar cane onto boats.

The project involved retaining and repurposing the existing structures and introducing new accommodation buildings that complement their industrial aesthetic. Interiors designed by Ju Bin of Horizontal Space Design aim to emphasize the connection between old and new.

"In order to create a sense of consistency, instead of simply copying the old materiality and texture, we try to seek this nuance where we use more contemporary materials and construction methods while retaining the tinge and masonry structure of the old," said the architects.

The new buildings are accommodated within landscaped grounds intended as a garden that guests can wander around to enjoy views of the landscape, ponds and planting.

Pathways connect the volumes with outdoor features including the sunken plaza and a swimming pool positioned within the former loading area that extends out towards the river.