Eco-tourism company Banyan Tree Group plans expansion in 2021

April 6, 2021 by  
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The Banyan Tree Group is celebrated globally for its commitment to sustainable practices in the hotel industry. This company goes above and beyond by sponsoring environmental clean-ups and educational programs in its host communities, establishing restoration zones near its properties and even donating surplus food to locals who may need it. Now, Banyan Tree Group has announced a global expansion for 2021 that includes adding 35 properties over the next 3 years. “Our robust momentum in business development and pipeline of new openings this year will continue to accelerate Banyan Tree Group’s international presence as we chart and connect guests to new awe-inspiring destinations,” said Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings. “As a global independent hospitality company, we remain positive and resilient. As an evolving multi-branded ecosystem with Wellbeing and Sustainability at our core, we set our eyes on the global front to strategically grow our brands to global reach and range, amidst the extended travel recovery.” The new properties span across eight destinations in three regions. The group will be adding new openings in Asia, where it already has extensive experience, along with new destinations such as Qatar in the Middle East, Greece in Europe and Mozambique in Africa. Related: Qatar to create 16 sustainable floating hotels for World Cup In March, Bayan Tree Group expanded into Quzhou of Zhejiang Province, Southern China , known for being the hometown of Chinese philosopher Confucius. The property features views of the Qu River and the famous Deer Park Peninsula. Later in the year, it will open Nanjing Garden Expo in the natural hot springs-rich Tangshan of Jiangsu province. The next stop will be Angsana Corfu in Greece, marking the company’s first property in Europe. Two Indonesian properties set in Bali will follow in May and July, one highlighting wellbeing facilities and organic farm-to-table dining and the other focusing on indoor-outdoor living with a “no walls, no doors” concept. In Q4, October and December, Banyan Tree will debut its new luxury properties in Qatar, Cambodia and Mozambique. Each will feature its own unique character, with the Mozambique property located near Africa’s largest marine reserve. + Banyan Tree Group Images via Banyan Tree Group

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Eco-tourism company Banyan Tree Group plans expansion in 2021

Eco-sensitive architecture helps lift a rural Chinese village out of poverty

March 23, 2021 by  
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In the misty tea terraces of southwest China, Hangzhou-based architecture practice gad · line+ studio has recently completed an eco-sensitive redevelopment project to help a rural village attract tourism revenue. Commissioned by major Chinese property developer Sunac and the Youcheng Foundation of the State Council Poverty Alleviation Office, the “targeted poverty alleviation” project included 2,400 square meters of renovation, new construction and landscape beautification to transform Guizhou’s rural Longtang village into a cultural destination with guesthouses, a new theater and other amenities. Prefabricated construction, locally sourced natural materials and solar panels were used to reduce the project’s environmental footprint. Home to the Miao community, the traditional Chinese village of Longtang has suffered from depopulation and decline due to a lack of job opportunities. To sustainably revitalize the village and celebrate the local culture, the architects renovated 750 square meters of existing architecture and added 1,650 square meters of new construction to attract tourists.  Related: Site-sensitive Woodhouse Hotel promotes agricultural tourism in Guizhou The renovation of the village’s traditional stilt buildings was a key part of the project. Locals who were increasingly renovating their structures with modern and cost-effective materials such as cement and brick had been inadvertently eroding their village’s history. As a result, the architects created a series of reconstruction demonstration projects to show villagers how locally sourced and low-cost materials can be used with space-optimizing layouts to beautifully improve the buildings. The architects also installed solar panels on the sloped roofs. To develop a tourism revenue stream, the architects built eight new hillside-embedded guesthouses that mimic the traditional Miao stilt architecture along with the Mountain House, a prefabricated , public-facing building with a panoramic roof terrace, an outdoor theater and an infinity pool. Like the guesthouses, the Mountain House appears to “float” above the landscape, but it does feature a more contemporary aesthetic. “The public building of Mountain House breaks through the traditional rural building styles, trying to create a refined and pure modern sense to dialogue with the mountains,” the architects explained. “The building is naturally divided into two L-shaped volumes according to the height differences with the mountain.” + gad · line+ studio Photography by Arch-Exist Photography via gad · line+ studio

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Eco-sensitive architecture helps lift a rural Chinese village out of poverty

Maidla Nature Resort is a micro-hotel on stilts in a pristine Estonian landscape

March 17, 2021 by  
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Located next to a woodland swamp at Rapla, Estonia and raised on 7-meter-high stilts, Maidla Nature Resort is a tiny treehouse-style retreat for just one or two visitors. It offers simple hospitality suited to current pandemic conditions. This breath of fresh air for resort design has been nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – the Mies van der Rohe Award . Maidla Nature Resort is designed for maximum durability. It’s not so easy to drive a builder’s van through this delicate landscape for maintenance, so all materials are tough and locally sourced as much as possible. Dark brown thermo-treated, ash-wood walls blend in with swaying birch trees. The treehouse is covered with terraces designed to make the most of the sun’s path over the course of the day. The lower morning terrace captures the early light; gigantic steps lead to the roof, and a night terrace at treetop height is perfect for enjoying sunsets, stargazing and birdwatching.  Related: DROP box micro hotel lets you roam the world in nomadic luxury Built from timber found onsite, the building has an irregular shape with several triangles pivoting around the sleeping area. The bedroom provides panoramic views of the dreamy landscape. A wood-burning fireplace forms a focal point and ups the comfort factor. The 28-square-meter space can be divided by drapes to form a bedroom and a separate work or rest area with sofas. The compact bathroom features floor-to-ceiling mirrors and an incineration toilet, meaning no waste enters the surrounding ecosystem. Architect Mari Hunt of b210 finds it remarkable that Estonia has selected the project to represent the country. “Large-scale public buildings are usually nominated for the award, to represent the public and well-known face of European architecture,” Hunt explained. “We tried to create a space that would remind people of their connection to nature , the fragility and value of this link that is already disappearing in many places.” Owner and author of the idea, Ragnar Sass, traveled extensively and was inspired by the way architecture can transform a location. His tiny hotel , built in a completely secluded area where guests are more likely to spot elk and foxes than people, allows visitors to really come close to the untouched Estonian bog landscape. Sass knew that Hunt would create something really special. “Getting Mari to work with us at Maidla was the best choice — she’s been designing and tutoring projects that magnify Estonian nature for years,” Sass said. “The forest megaphones in Pähni, the floating sauna project in Soomaa — once we started looking around, she’s the best at getting architecture to have a conversation with the nature around it.” The high-profile Mies van der Rohe Architecture Award is given biennially by the European Union and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe. Each member state nominates a small selection of architectural projects. Today, when over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas , opportunities to connect with and spend time in the outdoors will be more and more sought after. Locations such as Maidla Nature Resort can provide city dwellers with a welcome respite and chance to connect with nature. +b210 Photography by Priidu Saart and Tõnu Tunnel via b210

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Maidla Nature Resort is a micro-hotel on stilts in a pristine Estonian landscape

Pod-shaped Coco Villa immerses guests in nature and luxury

February 8, 2021 by  
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Hidden in the jungle high above Hermosa Beach near the Costa Rican town of Uvita is the  Art Villas Resort , a luxurious and sustainably-minded glamping destination with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Czech owner Filip Žák, the resort comprises three architecturally striking villas with differing designs. Prague-based architecture firms ARCHWERK and  Formafatal  completed the resort’s newest addition, the Coco Villa, a set of five egg-shaped houses. Completed in June 2020, the Coco Villa is a cluster of five  treehouse -inspired structures built primarily of local tropical wood along with light-colored tent canvas textiles and metal elements. ARCHWERK architects created the concept and architectural design of the nest-like pods, while Formafatal oversaw the interior design and exterior finishing of the structures, including the footbridges and stairs that connect the individual buildings.  “Filip turned to us with an amazing challenge: to build with simple solutions and local materials a luxurious, but at the same time adventurous living, bringing the experience of an immediate stay in the  Costa Rican  jungle,” ARCHWERK explained in a press release. “According to his words, they should be “tree houses” placed on the hillside of the Art Villas resort, but in the freshly established garden without fully grown trees.” Related: Green-roofed villa blends into a Costa Rican jungle landscape The interiors of the Coco Villa pods echo the  minimalist  and playful approach of the exterior. Each cabin includes a raised bed carefully positioned to take advantage of breathtaking views of the outdoors. The cabins vary in size, with the largest housing a shared kitchen and dining area. In addition to the newly completed Coco Villa, the Art Villas Resort includes a concrete Art Villa designed by architecture firm Refuel; the tropical minimalist Atelier Villa by Formafatal studio; and the Wing, a tropical multifunctional pavilion that was designed by ARCHWERK studio.  + ARCHWERK + Formafatal Images by BoysPlayNice

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Pod-shaped Coco Villa immerses guests in nature and luxury

Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees

February 2, 2021 by  
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In the Chiloé Archipelago in southern Chile, a hidden gem of four tiny homes awaits nature-lovers. Remotely located in the commune of Queilén, Tiny Houses Comarca Contuy is a unique retreat that offers isolation in nature, warm hospitality and unforgettable “ glamping ” — glamorous camping — in four timber cabins elevated into the treetops. These cabins were designed by Chilean architecture firm Utreras Arquitectos. Completed in 2016, Tiny Houses Comarca County was commissioned by Comarca Contuy, an entity that promotes tourism in the region through art, culture and nature-related ventures. Nestled between the Chilean evergreen trees known as coigüe, the site-specific cluster of four cabins are carefully crafted in response to the uneven topography and views overlooking the Paildad estuary. As a result, the timber cabins are elevated and located at different heights. Related: A homey, floating cabin makes for the ultimate romantic getaway in South Australia “The idea was born from creating four shelters ‘glamping’ style among the trees, looking for formality and disposition of the latter, as well as the birds’ nests, through the proposed circular windows,” say the architects in a project statement. “Each one of these four shelters has spaces to be in and spend the night, connecting each other and the rest of the place through a wooden footbridge . The different views to the exterior, the immersion in the middle of the trees and the proximity with the estuary, make it possible to feel the wind and some species of birds in a close way when entering and being on the work.” To blend the buildings into the environment, all four cabins are clad in timber and elevated on cypress foundation piles. Local coigüe wood was used for the primary and secondary structural beams, while cinnamon wood was used for partitions and trusses. Each unit is equipped with a private patio, a kitchen with an oven and a shared bathroom with a shower. The sleeping areas are located on the second floor. + Utreras Arquitectos Photography by Gustavo Burgos via Utreras Arquitectos

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Adorable timber cabins in Chile let you glamp among the trees

Dolmen Shelter renderings imagine stone-shaped guest rooms

January 18, 2021 by  
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Sibling team Davit and Mary Jilavyan have imagined a boutique  hotel  with stone-shaped guest rooms partially inspired by their housing complex in Moscow. The project, known as Dolmen Shelter, is a fictional rendering that the duo hopes to someday see brought to fruition by their friends in the building industry. The hotel measures from 35 square meters to 55 square meters on 100-120 square meters of site area. According to Davit and Mary, they came up with the idea while walking near their house and seeing a landscape design made up of three  stones . The structures are reminiscent of single-chamber megalithic tombs known as dolmens, which date from the early Neolithic age. Related: Marc Thorpe designs live/work buildings built from earth bricks The project imagines a mini-hotel with at least three small stone-shaped guest suites, a design that the team chose instead of buildings made from different blocks to keep the project unique. The idea is to move away from modern house designs that prioritize contemporary shapes and glass, and instead focus on more organic shapes. Each stone-shaped suite is made of reinforced concrete and faced with plaster to imitate natural stone. A few very small windows help mimic a  cave’s  atmosphere. Red lighting evokes the same mystery that characterizes  ancient  dolmens; archaeologists still debate the reasons behind their presence and methods of construction. The team says this choice intentionally alludes to the mesmerizing estrangement and overall characteristics that attract people to these ominous stone structures.  Simple, minimalist furniture provides enough to live comfortably without excess, while a rectangular black volume with an entrance space is built into each suite to indicate the doorway. Overall, the hotel renderings remind one of the ancestral caves of early humans, a feature the Jilavyans believe will distract guests from their busy lifestyles and allow them to concentrate on themselves and their inner voices.  + Dolmen Shelter Via Dezeen Images via Davit and Mary Jilavyan

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Dolmen Shelter renderings imagine stone-shaped guest rooms

These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

November 5, 2020 by  
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Norweigian architectural firm Spacegroup has released renderings of the Movikheien Cabins, a development of raised wooden cabins in Hagefjorden, Norway. The property design purposefully does not include car-accessible roads; this limited access, along with the elevated cabins, aims to exhibit minimal physical encroachment on the natural terrain. According to the architects, the global COVID-19 pandemic that initially hit in mid-March has opened new opportunities in local travel industries despite having negative consequences on the economy. While international travel became limited due to pandemic restrictions, leading to uncertainty in the airline industry and a historically low value for the Norweigan Krone, the locals began to turn to domestic travel to explore the destinations in their own backyards. Related: Snøhetta completes stunning Norwegian cabins for glacier hikers The new development will boast environmentally friendly design and social inclusivity. In the past, cabin and campground developments meant manipulating the natural terrain by cutting down large areas of forest to produce oversized structures with large carbon footprints. The Movikheien Cabins project breaks this trend, with traditional “light touch” small units measuring about 62 square meters each and made using 100% wood construction. Sixteen new cabins are proposed for the development, each sitting on elevated columns above the terrain to preserve the landscape while remaining connected to the forest. This shared-yet-separate space provides a social community element all while protecting the land. Even better, a principle concept in the planning is dedicated to ensuring that the space would not be accessible to cars, since building roads would require too much intervention in the landscape. Instead, the site is accessed solely by a hiking trail designed by the client and architects as well as a rock climber and arborist who walked and mapped the location. This aspect also contributes to a lower construction footprint, as all building components must be of a dimension to be transported without the use of heavy machinery. + Spacegroup Images via Spacegroup

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These elevated wooden cabins can only accessed via hiking trail

Middelkerke Casino blends into the surrounding Belgian sand dunes

October 22, 2020 by  
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Great architectural design provides function for indoor spaces but also considers the effect on the surrounding outdoor space. This is especially true in a sensitive habitat, like that along the coastline of Belgium, where a massive casino will meld into the curving landscape while bringing an economic boost to the region. As winner of a recent Design & Build Competition, Nautilus consortium plans to honor both the history and the landscape with the new building, which will be located in the municipality of Middelkerke. Related: Massive eco-resort with a theme park to rise on Vietnam’s beaches The primary design goal was to create visual appeal that blends into the seascape rather than standing out against it, with a focus on building placement and integration. For example, the event hall, restaurant and casino will be situated behind transparent facades that offer views of the beach, sea and horizon beyond. From the outside, the wood structure of the ‘boulder’-shaped hotel is striking, with a light, natural appeal that contrasts the surrounding glass- and concrete-clad buildings and merges seamlessly into the surrounding flora. Energy savings are incorporated into every phase of the design, including the cantilevered dune on top of the ground floor and the terraces of the hotel tower, which protrude over the facade, creating shade during hot summer months. In addition, the layout takes advantage of the cooling sea breezes. Material waste is avoided wherever possible, and recycled materials are incorporated throughout construction. Structurally, the campus addresses flood risk through dike reinforcement while also providing a public space that is pedestrian-friendly . The upper seawall area is a car-free zone focused on bicyclists and foot traffic; an underground parking garage offers convenience and keeps cars out of sight. “With this project our coast will be enriched with a new architectural anchor, that accurately represents the character of Middelkerke,” said Mayor Jean-Marie Dedecker. “It transmits strength and soberness as well as sophistication, with a lot of love for the sea and the dunes. In addition, this project may mean the beginning of the renewal of Middelkerke’s town centre as an appealing place to live and visit.” Nautilus consortium is a collaboration between developer Ciril, chief designers ZJA (architecture) and DELVA ( landscape architecture ), OZ (casino and hotel design), executive architect Bureau Bouwtechniek and contractors Furnibo and Democo. They are assisted by experts from COBE, VK Engineering, Beersnielsen, Witteveen+Bos, Plantec, MINT and Sertius. + ZJA Images via Nautilus Consortium

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Middelkerke Casino blends into the surrounding Belgian sand dunes

Plant a unique indoor garden with this modular living wall kit from Horticus

October 22, 2020 by  
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Designed by Horticus, these modular living walls offer a stunning way to reconnect with nature by creating a vertical hanging garden indoors, no matter how small the space. The flexible system is completely adaptable, with a modular, hexagonal steel frame with room for customized terracotta planters. The instructions are easy enough for even beginner gardeners. Simply soak the terracotta planters, assemble the modular frames into your desired layout, place the planters onto the frames and start planting. You can water without flooding the roots through a grid of watering holes on the side of the planters. Don’t worry, the website goes much more in-depth in terms of instruction, with additional maintenance tips and optional steps to keep your plants as beautiful and healthy as possible. Related: The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall Plants can be rearranged and replaced according to the customer’s preference. Users can lift the terracotta planters out to rearrange or repot. Planters come with little feet on the bottom for added circulation and finger gaps for lifting, so you can easily place them on a table for things like kitchen herbs or centerpieces. The company offers kits that provide owners with everything they need to get started on their personal indoor living walls. Kits range from three planters to up to 24 planters, with options to include a humidifier (great for tropical plants ), a light or a speaker inside. The website also includes a detailed plant guide with a list of tested plants that work best within the system. The guide designates plants in terms of growing difficulty level, from the “super easy” Zebrina plant to the “medium/expert” orchids. The smallest kit includes three planters and one frame and will set you back about $310, while the largest kit costs over $1,350. These planters are certainly an investment, but if you can swing it, Horticus will help bring a stunning garden oasis right into your home to help you improve your indoor air quality with style. + Horticus Via Dezeen Images via Horticus

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Plant a unique indoor garden with this modular living wall kit from Horticus

Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

October 5, 2020 by  
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At 10,666 feet above sea level, the newly constructed Iceman Ötzi Peak observation deck provides nature-lovers with a stunning vantage point of the Italian Alps at the peak of the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in South Tyrol. Designed by Network of Architecture (noa*), the sculptural viewing platform is built of weathered steel and elegantly engineered for minimal impact, resulting in a structure that appears to blend in with and float above the landscape. The 80-square-meter viewing platform was recently completed last month for the Hotel Grawand, a unique, high-altitude hotel that is just a stone’s throw away from the summit. The Iceman Ötzi Peak is named after Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy, the Iceman Ötzi, whose mummified body was found nearby and is now on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. In addition to providing breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains, the undulating viewing platform also pays further homage to Ötzi with a geometric funnel cut into the observation deck that frames views of where Ötzi was found. The funnel is capped with a glass railing to give users the thrilling sensation of walking on air. Related: Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol The lightweight viewing platform was designed to only touch the ground where necessary to limit visual and environmental impact, and it follows the natural topography. Weathered steel was selected as the primary material for its durability and its patina, which turns dark brown, gray and black over time to gradually blend in with the surroundings. “The parapet-high, vertical elements trace these gentle curves in their sequence,” the architects explained. “This creates a magical effect: an opening and closing of views that follows the movement of the viewer — an invitation to discover new perspectives time and again. This unique dynamic creates a fully immersive, sensual experience in which time stands still for a moment and every other souvenir is eclipsed.” + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

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