The Maldives is most commonly perceived as being a beautiful, pristine, and idyllic paradise destination. All this is true, especially in the best designed resorts but it is a paradise created. The locals live in a delicate balancing act with nature, and are totally dependent on trade, technology, and tourism to sustain themselves.
Thus, when we were given an opportunity to design a Maldivian resort hotel, we chose to delight the senses through education, creating awareness, and new paradigms of interacting with the physical environment. Here, paradise is emotionally and intellectually experienced and enjoyed, but with a profound awareness of the complex relationships of the eco systems being inhabited.
REDEFINING BAREFOOT LUXURY - The desire for Low Impact and High Experiential Return is completely defined by the economics of building and operating costs and this defines the physical design solution. Luxury in our business concept is not conspicuous consumption but rather the intelligent and focused enjoyment of the beauties of nature without large numbers of people. Isolation and privacy in a remote setting has a higher price. The guest are rewarded not only with the barefoot luxury this brings about, but also by the enrichment of the senses and the heightened intellectual awareness of the habitats being occupied.
MASTER PLAN AND LANDSCAPE CONCEPT - The island is surrounded by a large 'House Reef', and is defined by several distinct ecological zones: Lagoon, beach, coastal and jungle. These zones become the basis of creating experiential programs that guides the guests through their journey of discovery and awareness creation. Each zone has unique anchoring activities: The Lagoon zone has a water amphitheater and a signature spa, the Beach zone with two signature restaurants, the Jungle zone has a nature discovery center and a pop-up café, the Coastal zone has a dive center and a signature bar.
Threading through these activities is an art trial where the seasonal work of artists in residence showcase pop-up installations using found objects and locally sourced materials. The landscape concept focuses on the conservation of the existing island flora and fauna, and careful replacement of displaced plant material with locally sourced species from neighboring islands. Selective introduction of certain plant species, especially fruit trees, herbs and salt resistant plants are made into the experiential zones to reinforce the programmatic activities, for example the edible garden activity, and the nature discovery trail.
ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN - The architecture and interior design are treated as extensions of the primary concept driver, nature itself. The forms and spaces are derived from nature, and the juxtaposition of these forms against the variations of the primitive hut creates the architectural expression of the resort. These family of forms constitute a nature inspired island village that encourages the guests to question, speculate and imagine the formal origins and thereby creates awareness.
Together with the nature discovery programs and activities, guests will surely imbibe the message with regards to the origins and preciousness of the island habitat. In order to achieve minimum impact during construction and to minimize logistics and labor, a pre-fabricated timber system was used as the preferred technology. This is a renewable resource thus having the added advantage of being environmentally friendly, and adds to the eco awareness aspect of the resort.
CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY - In order to cause minimum impact during construction and to minimize logistics and labor, a pre-fabricated timber system was used as the preferred technology. This had the added advantage of being environmentally friendly because of it being a renewable resource, and adds to the eco-awareness aspect of the resort. Minimum use of concrete and steel, and maximum use of cross laminated wood technology also was expressed in the making of the various forms as a way of expressing the commitment to the environment.
GIVING BACK TO THE MALDIVES - In a strong demonstration of the resort’s sensitivity not only to the environment but also to the people of the Maldives, maximum local labor was used, together with specialist contractors who imparted advanced timber technology skills to the labor force. In future operations, resort staff will be sourced from the surrounding islands to support those communities as well as ensuring authentic island hospitality.
Local craftsman were tapped to create arts and crafts for the interiors, and traditional methods of construction especially in landscape design was applied. In future operations, resort staff will be sourced from the surrounding islands to support those communities as well as ensuring authentic island hospitality. Luxury here is not conspicuous consumption but rather the intelligent and focused enjoyment of the beauties of nature without large numbers of people. The guest are rewarded not only with the barefoot luxury, but also by the enrichment of the senses and the heightened intellectual awareness of the habitats being occupied.