Fusion of modern designs with regional history and culture
Many architectural endeavors aim to generate the next big breakthrough or kick off the next cutting-edge trend. But in many cases, it is also important that the design of new projects respects the heritage and culture of the places in which they will be located.
Showing respect for a region’s authentic history and heritage is more than an honorable act. Owners and developers have long recognized that many of the most successful resorts, communities, commercial districts and other properties incorporate authentic connections to the land and the native people who first inhabited it.
“By allowing the region’s history and culture to be a guiding force in design, we are establishing a project that enriches the experience and creates meaning for its visitors, while honoring the local community,” said Scott LaMont, CEO of EDSA, a more than 60-year-old planning, landscape, architecture and urban design firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “As we incorporate the authenticity and history of the place throughout the design, there is a deeper level of creative thought that translates and resonates with the end user. This makes their experience more memorable and a experience they will want to return to… We harness a deep appreciation of the local ethos as we integrate original concepts and ecological narratives to create harmonious spaces that have social, cultural, environmental and economic meaning.
One of LaMont’s favorite examples of EDSA incorporating historical or cultural elements came in the design of Mayakoba, a private development in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Presented with the challenge of designing and developing three of the four hotels and a golf course on the development’s 620 acres, the EDSA team took inspiration from the ancient Mayan villages of the area.
“From there, we were able to create a complex and complementary ecotourism model, where the waterways restored the surrounding wildlife and the natural topography enhanced the guest experience,” recalls LaMont. “This process allowed natural and man-made systems to become completely intertwined.”
For example, at the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort, hotel plots have been intentionally located behind a mangrove skirt to provide a peaceful balance between wildlife and guests. “This context and layout honors Maya settlements traditionally located inland,” LaMont pointed out. “Instead of cluttering the waterfront with dense structures, low-rise suites have been raised on stilts to support a more natural, pristine sensibility. This low-impact form has become a model for environmentally conscious design. .
When New York-based Champalimaud Design was given responsibility for designing the restoration of the famed Raffles Hotel Singapore, the hotel’s storied history contributed to its modern reinvention. The Raffles Hotel is one of Asia’s most beloved and identifiable landmarks.
Champalimaud was tasked with the challenge of creating a design that honored the history of the place, but at the same time met the demands of the most upscale globetrotters of that time. “Singapore is a melting pot and our design reflects influences from various cultural and decorative traditions,” says Ed Bakos, CEO of Champalimaud Design. “Guest bathrooms feature waterjet-cut mosaic floors inspired by Peranakan designs. And we’ve created a restaurant that celebrates the Indian Tiffin tradition. We’ve also worked hard to preserve some of the charming details, retrofitting the original electrical switches to provide the dimming and controls expected by today’s customers.
A reputation for design solutions inspired by the nuances of a site has earned 62-year-old SB Architects global recognition. The company has won awards for work such as the Conrad Punta de Mita in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. Offering an immersive, moving and above all tranquil tropical oasis, the resort pays homage to the heritage of the Huichol people, while emphasizing their reverence for the natural world.
“Design that captures the underlying history and spirit of a place can both inspire an awareness of history and elicit emotionally resonant experiences for guests, placing them in the present and connecting them. to a site’s resilience and inimitable character,” said Scott Lee, President and Principal of SB Architects.
“An authentic connection to place instills a deeper appreciation and sense of curiosity in hotel guests, creates a lasting impression, and contributes to a sense of timelessness to the property.”