The world is home to thousands and thousands of national parks – spaces allocated for conservation, hosting land usually left in its natural state for people to visit. The term “national park” itself differs in meaning around the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, the phrase simply describes a relatively undeveloped area that attracts tourists. In the United States, this terminology is a lot more rigid, describing 63 protected areas operated by the United States National Park service.
Eco Tourism: The Latest Architecture and News
The Adler Hotel Group have completed construction on a new, minimalist eco-hotel in Italy’s Dolomites mountain range. Called Adler Lodge Ritten, the project is located on the Ritten plateau, a short walk from the region’s historic narrow-gauge railway. The retreat was designed to blend into the surrounding forest by taking the form of rural alpine structures.
Vincent Callebaut Architectures has released a design proposal for a new eco-tourism resort in The Philippines inspired by natural coastline forms. Making extensive use of cradle-to-cradle and other sustainable design principles, the resort features a series of spiraling apartment buildings and shell-shaped hotel buildings, themselves positioned on two Fibonacci spirals of land in a coastal lagoon. At the center of the ensemble, a mountain-like complex combines a school, recreational swimming pools, sports halls, the resort's kitchens, and a suite of laboratories for environmental scientists.
The Blue Clay Country Spa architecture competition, in partnership with SRED Global real estate developers, is tasking participants with presenting designs for a countryside guest house that would specialise in providing health treatments using this unique and naturally occurring organic product. Blue clay has long been used in restorative treatments, and provides health and beauty benefits in its naturally occurring form. Blue Clay has an exceptionally high mineral content and been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. The research is still being carried out to this day to further understand the clay’s antibacterial properties.
In early April 2015, the New York Times reported on Leonardo DiCaprio’s recent purchase of Blackadore Caye, a small island off the coast of Belize that has faced significant environmental degradation and erosion. A patron of several environmental projects, DiCaprio is partnering with Paul Scialla, CEO of the Delos real estate and wellness platform, to create an eco-resort intended to serve as the latest model of cutting-edge, environmentally-responsible tourism development. The development plans include a row of floating guest suites built over the water, 48 private villas (ringing in at $5-15 million), human health and anti-aging wellness programs, and a conservation area. The project is advertised as meeting the ambitious green building standards of the Living Building Challenge and the WELL Building Standard®.
Many Times readers in the comments section sardonically noted that the private jets and the shipment of building materials and daily resources for island development come with large environmental and social price tags that far outweigh the conservation efforts associated with the resort. On the other hand, a few commentators pointed out that the development will employ local labor and save the island from complete degradation. The discussion surrounding the pros and cons of “eco-tourism” development is not a new one, and not one that is easily settled.
But beyond the (important) discussion of the impacts of eco-tourism, the development raises questions about the emergence of alternative green building market standards, which ostensibly aim to transform the building industry by setting measurable targets for the environmental and social effects of the places we live and work.