Bite-size Case Study

Capella Ubud: sustainability in hospitality

Published on March 31, 2024 Originally recorded 2023   3 min
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This is the case of Capella Ubud Hotel, designed by architect Bill Bensley and his team. The award winning resort is made up of 22 luxurious tents hidden in a jungle. Now, Bensley used the concept of minimal intervention in the sitting of the tents, where the priority was to keep every tree standing during the construction which means a clear understanding of the exact position of each tent, offering the best views of the jungle, but without necessarily being seen. There's a nice theory backing-up this concept, which is the Prospect-Refuge theory developed by Jay Appleton in 1975. The theory explains our preferences for certain landscape, arguing that we derive feelings of safety and pleasure from inhabiting environments that offer both a view, but also a sense of enclosure. Now, each tent offers those spectacular views of the jungle and each room is designed according to a theme. Much of the key elements such as floorings and doors are the product of local craftsmanship.
Interesting here is that the idea is to explain the story of early European settlers shipwrecked in Bali which means that salvaging material would be a key component of the design, just like shipwrecked settlers would do. The rooms are full of surprises that are aimed to engage the guest into the experience. On the right hand side, you have hula skirt that wraps the palm trees since those trees are found across the resorts going through rooms and public spaces allowing for the tree to continue its growth and movement although being a principal feature of the built environment. The concept has a strong approach to sustainability in its DNA. But where does the circularity and upcycling story kicks in, you may ask?