Baota Mountain is the symbol of Yan’an, it is also Yan’an’s most prominent tourist attraction. The Baota Mountain was built in the Tang Dynasty; it is an important historical and cultural heritage in China. The essence and the status of Baota Mountain is manifested in the saying “Yan’an Baota is the spiritual symbol of the Chinese Revolution.” Today, it is our duty to protect, inherit, and carry forward the identity of the Chinese Revolution. Baota Mountain is located in the center of Yan’an City. It is constrained by the unique landform, i.e. “the three mountains and two rivers,” which limit the city development. The original tourist area was inadequately planned; the countless cave dwellings built by the local residents have severely destroyed the mountain’s ecology. The boundary between the living space and the tourist attraction became blurred, the disordered layouts have impacted the cultural landscape and natural landform, exerting negative influences to the cultural place of revolution.
In July 2013, Yan’an suffered from heavy rainfall; the situation escalated and had caused mass collapses of cave dwellings. The mountain area near the tourist attraction has shown severe potentiality for geological hazard, affecting the architecture heritage, life, and properties of people. To ensure the safety of People, and to protect the natural and cultural landscape of the area, Yan’an Municipal Party Committee and the Municipal Government planned to protect and improve the local conditions in the attraction area. A tourist center was then proposed to enhance the tourist experience by providing consultation, exhibitions, IT centers and parking.
The design proposal seeks to retain and repair the valuable architecture within the site, with the aim to preserve its history and locality. The slopes, mountain plank path, loose rocks, and cave dwellings have been carefully preserved and secured with reinforcement. In order to prevent the geological disaster, the site is also equipped with floodwater discharge, soil, and water conservation measures to cope with potential disasters. The restoration and reconstruction of the fragmented mountain ecology have significantly improved the environmental quality of the tourist attraction area. As a continuation of the local culture, the architecture has adopted the local style, repairing and conserving the existing caves, blended with new buildings. The west side of the main building faces the city road; a terraced architecture is adopted to reduce the heaviness of the massing and integrate the architecture with the natural environment. The design also echoes the cave dwellings in the north, creating the symbiosis of the old and the new.