Step Inside the Sunyata Hotel in Dali With Photographer Jonathan Leijonhufvud

Step Inside the Sunyata Hotel in Dali With Photographer Jonathan Leijonhufvud

Project of the Week

I love photographer Jonathan Leijonhufvud’s website biography, and think it paints the perfect picture of our Project of the Week photographer:

Jonathan Leijonhufvud photographs architecture, interiors and still life.

Born in Sweden, raised in China, Jonathan works internationally with offices in Beijing and Hong Kong.

When not freezing time, Jonathan plays drums with the Chinese rock band P.K.14.

This week we’re taking a look at his photographs of the Sunyata Hotel in Dali by Zhaoyang Architects.

The hotel is near Dali’s city center, and since it doesn’t overlook any remarkable views, Zhaoyang Architects designed the hotel to have an atmosphere of privacy and tranquility all its own.

Fourteen rooms throughout eight separate volumes surround a beautiful courtyard – the heart of the hotel. There is also a tea pavilion and cafe in this miniature world. Let’s check out Jonathan’s photographs, which translate the peaceful and private nature of this hotel.

Jonathan accentuates the blocky, rectilinear design of the hotel in his one-point perspectives, creating bold lines and shapes. These carry our eye to the center of the image, noting the forms and light along the way.

Gentle, side-sweeping light creates delicate shadows and pulls out textures in the building materials. There is dimensionality without distraction.

Jonathan isn’t afraid to let some scenes fall dark, focusing our attention on the forms present in each image. There is a moodiness and quietness about each scene.

Cheerful displays of the differing room styles help us understand what each space is like, showcasing the rooms and their most important elements.

Back in the courtyard, our attention is drawn to the interplay of light and shadows on the structures. Shadows of the roofline and trees hint at things we can’t see just out of frame and pique our curiosity.

I appreciate Jonathan’s use of a model to convey life and scale in these images. Seeing the hotel “in operation” helps us understand the architecture in its intended use.

Back in the courtyard, this time in the evening, we are greeted by a beautiful use of color to convey the warmth and shelter the hotel provides while showing a bit of mood and contrast against the cool dusk sky. I enjoy being able to see the same daytime scene from earlier at a different time of day. This fleshes out the story of the hotel and gives us a sense of place and time.

Many thanks to Jonathan for sharing this beautiful project with us here at APALMANAC!

Visit to see more of Jonathan’s incredible work.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

Howdy! I'm Lexi. I write and make photographs. I love being outside and listening to '00s indie rock.
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