WOW Architects inspired by natural forms for remote resort in the Maldives

The question and responsibility facing hoteliers and designers is how to access remote places, and how to build responsibly there
– Wong Chiu Man, WOW Architects founder

Hospitality architects working in ecologically sensitive parts of the world have a responsibility to ensure their projects are sustainable, even after building work has completed, Wong Chiu Man has told CLADglobal.

“Guests increasingly seek out the special and the meaningful, and they are drawn to remote places with the potential to host unique leisure spaces,” said the WOW Architects founder. “The question and responsibility facing hoteliers and designers is how to access these places, and how to build responsibly there.”

In 2016, Wong and his studio completed the St Regis Maldives resort on the remote Vommuli Island. They have stayed involved ever since, working with the client to introduce more solar and wind power and developing a ‘Zero Waste’ approach.

“The biggest constraint we faced as architects was the logistical challenge of creating something genuinely sustainable,” said Wong. “To ensure that we achieve this, we’ve stayed involved in the afterlife of the project by designing a re-supply exercise for the hotel. Everything is recycled. We compost all leftover food and grow our own produce to reduce the carbon footprint of bringing it in. We also work with guests and artists to recycle and upcycle old building materials, glass and found objects into pieces of art. Our task as architects did not end when the building work was complete.”

The luxury hotel, which was recognised in several categories at the AHEAD Asia Awards 2018, is spread across 77 villas. Amenities include a water amphitheatre, a signature spa, two signature restaurants, a nature discovery centre and a dive centre.

“Traditionally, hotels in the Maldives have a ‘Paradise Lost’ theme with a Robinsons Crusoe thatched hut fantasy, but we took a different track,” said Wong. “Nature, sea forms and the local vernacular were the sources of our design inspiration.

“The island is defined by different ecological zones: the beach, the rocky coastal area and the dense jungle. The villas, restaurants, spa and lobbies take on the characteristics of the zone they are in. Villas perched over water are inspired by manta rays and whale sharks, the beach huts are inspired by a fisherman’s wooden shack we found, and the nature centre in the middle of the jungle is inspired by the root system of an amazing local banyan tree.”

Wong Chiu Man  WOW Architects  Maldives  St Regis Maldives 
Hospitality architects working in ecologically sensitive parts of the world have a responsibility to ensure their projects are sustainable, even after building work has completed, Wong Chiu Man has told CLADglobal. “Guests increasingly seek out the special and the meaningful, and they are drawn to remote places with the potential to host unique leisure spaces,” said the WOW Architects founder. “The question and responsibility facing hoteliers and designers is how
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The design of the villas are inspired by manta rays and whale sharks / WOW Architects
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