Hospitality Issue | Hotel and Resorts: Connecting with Nature
In the 80s and 90s many talked about how to be tropical but the hospitality industry actually did it. There were a couple of reasons for this. Resorts had space—large plots, natural settings, and the freedom to go big on landscaping. Urban architecture, conversely, was locked into tight sites with high densities and little wiggle room. Tropical resorts also had willing buyers. The architectural styling, the integration with landscaping, openness to climate—these were part of a brand, the package on offer. Tropical styling could, potentially, pay its way.
Fast forward 30 years. We now talk Green; we ask questions on how we get to a sustainable future. The building must manage its relationship with the world, the waste it emits, the resources it consumes. The building must also embed itself in the local—climate, community, ecology.
Resorts are once again on the frontlines of this discussion.
The reasons haven’t changed. Travellers are still looking for an experience, a proximity to the ‘real’ thing. Finding something authentic—which is getting harder by the day—is on everyone’s bucket list. A traveller might be persuaded to pick a resort that is aligned to his/her values. Many are looking to reduce their impact on the environment. As a result, hotels wear their Green credentials on their sleeves. Greenness is made manifest through design, the way that they touch the site, the construction materials they choose. In this issue you will find excellent examples of this: the Saffire Resort in Australia; The Tent in Vietnam; and Hotel by the Waterfalls at Ramboda in Sri Lanka.
Urban hotels, meanwhile, are overcoming the chokehold of the city. Bangkok Tree House in Thailand and Golden Holiday Hotel in Vietnam attempt, in their own ways, to showcase an environmental agenda in tight sites. The most vivid example of Green-on-display is the PARKROYAL on Pickering in Singapore. This is an ode to nature in which form becomes metaphor (are those rice terraces or subterranean caves?). Each room, each corridor that gets you to a room, is designed so you, the guest, can see and touch a garden. This notion—that our wellness is contingent on proximity to nature—is increasingly important to the idea of a sustainable building. You will find more examples of this in the pages ahead.
Our FuturArc Interviewee, Dr Chrisna du Plessis, no doubt would approve of this love affair with nature. Her new book, Designing for Hope, discusses regenerative design, an important new paradigm that leapfrogs the sustainability discussion on to the next level. Regenerative design is also the theme for this year’s FuturArc Prize. In the next issue we will feature winners of the competition and say more on Dr du Plessis’ book.
Until then, happy reading.