6 Nature-Inspired Hotels and Resorts with Elements of Biophilic Design
This article was updated on March 11, 2021.
Towering skyscrapers may feel like an antithesis of nature, but that’s not the case for hotels embracing biophilic design. First conceived by American biologist Edward Wilson in 1984, the term refers to the relationship between man-made structures and the natural environment. By allowing lush greenery to weave in and around properties, such a design philosophy encourages wellness and sustainability.
Prime examples can be seen in resorts that preserve a majority of the trees on its original site as well as urban hotels that make greenery and elements of nature an inherent part of their design. Aside from creating an aesthetically pleasing space through the use of native plants, biophilic design also improves the human connection with nature, and in turn reduces stress and improves our wellbeing.
From Oasis Hotel Downtown’s exterior of lush vegetation to the verdant landscaping of the upcoming Patina Maldives resort, these hotels will transport you right back to the heart of nature.
1/6 1 Hotel Haitang Bay
Sun, sand, sea and verdant greenery— this enchanting combination has contributed to the popularity of Hainan, an island in southern China now benefitting from a domestic travel boom. Among the newer properties of note is the calming oasis that is 1 Hotel Haitang Bay. The first Asian property of US-based luxury hospitality group 1 Hotels, the resort embodies the brand’s eco-conscious ethos with a design inspired by its tranquil setting.
The resort’s architecture is the work of Hong Kong-based Oval Partnership, while Singapore-based studio Farm is the creative force behind its interior design. Weathered tree-like sculptures in the lobby are an abstract reference to the locale’s forested hills. A latticed skylight lets dappled light in, while materials such as textured concrete, local volcanic stone and salvaged Chinese roof tiles evoke the look of Hainan’s rock escarpments.
Throughout the establishment, the furnishings feature earthy tones and organic shapes. In the guestrooms, raw Chinese red cedar tree stumps become stools, and sun-bleached driftwood pieces form the artworks. The rattan rugs and organic cotton upholstery are comfortable and tactile. Bountiful greenery is integrated into stepped terraces and semi-open courtyards, giving the hotel its bucolic feel. The property’s single-loaded structure maximises natural light, ventilation and views, thereby cementing its connection to nature.
2/6 Mandai Resort
Nestled on a 4.6-hectare peninsula near Singapore’s Central Catchment Reserve, this upcoming retreat will be home to 24 eco-lodge tree houses designed to bridge the boundaries between nature and living spaces. Helmed by WOW Architects, the project aims to showcase Mandai’s biodiversity via native flora and fauna.
(Related: Wow Architects Founders Wong Chiu Man and Maria Warner Wong on Why Sustainability Plays a Key Role in Their Projects)
3/6 Oasia Hotel Downtown
A 27-storey tall building covered in climbing vines and lush plants; this high-rise hotel designed by architecture firm WOHA makes a stunning green mark on Singapore's skyline. 22 species of plants including phycus, philodendron, and thunbergia grow on the red aluminium mesh exterior, creating a mini ecosystem for birds and insects to thrive in.
(Related: WOHA Founding Directors Wong Mun Summ And Richard Hassell On Creating A Greener Singapore)
4/6 Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay
Originally conceived by American architect John Portman as the former Marina Mandarin Singapore, the hotel's new look by FDAT Architects includes a 370 sqm indoor lobby garden featuring a 13-meter-tall green wall. Billed as the city-state’s first “garden-in-a-hotel”, the hotel is home to 2,400 different trees and plants that can be enjoyed from the atrium bridge.
5/6 Patina Maldives Fari Islands
The brainchild of Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan, the upcoming 90-room resort is designed with Fari Islands’ beautiful landscape in mind; it's slated to open in the second quarter of this year. Lush greenery surrounds each of the one- to three-bedroom beach and pool villas, while architectural lines remain low so that guests can enjoy the blue skies and sea. Meanwhile, interiors feature natural fibres, rattan, and linen to blur the lines between nature and man-made.
(Related: Home Tour: A House In Brazil That Celebrates Tropical Modernism)
6/6 Alila Villas Uluwatu
Located in the Bukit Peninsula of Bali amid cliffs and rugged landscapes, the property is one of the first ecologically sustainable luxury resorts in the region. Designed by WOHA to feature indoor-outdoor spaces, the resort’s 50 suites and 34 residential villas feature locally sourced materials like limestone from the site and recycled railways sleepers.
(Related: Bali’s Alila Villas – Sleek, Stylish hideaways for the Perfect Escape)