Located inland in an area called Kaba-Kaba, Bali, this wellness retreat resort has been integrated into a forest that borders luscious rice fields on one side and a dramatic river on the other. The river converges water from the whole area creating a junction of small waterfalls that produce enough flow to power a hydroelectric generator that can sustain the power of the buildings within the complex. Merging with nature has been at the forefront in the approach to the design, not just by its operation but by using materials found directly on the site and the immediate locality, therefore enabling the resort to become fully carbon-zero. The first instigation of this can be seen in the dramatic use of rammed earth for all ground-level walls. Being located on a hill required significant ground works, therefore with much excess soil, creating this significant mass of curved walls was easily justified. Along with being able to connect the occupant to the beauty of rammed earth with its physicality and layered coloring, it also has superior insulation and structural properties. Being very intensive to build we were able to recruit the nearby village to work on what has become the most substantial rammed earth project in Indonesia.
The rest of the structure has been made with bamboo, much of which was harvested from the site. Not only does this fast-growing material incredibly sustainable, its flexibility means were able to create spaces that echo the abundance of life in the tropics. Built objects have been created which seem to biologically morph from the surrounding elements, in effect growing from the ground and sprouting among the rich vegetation. One such building is the yoga studio which literally does float from the cliff’s edge with a cantilevered structure supporting a parabolic bamboo pavilion.
The rooms themselves provide the eco-luxury that is required for this up-market project, with a feeling that is nurturing and in some feature bedrooms, almost cocoon-like. The guest villas too look towards a unique design, yet with the common denominator of bamboo architecture and the warming tones of rammed earth that make up the resort. The curvilinear formations of the roofs can be admired from different heights and angles while the reflections from the meandering pool below add to the effect.
The prospect for Phase Two will see a feature restaurant, river spa and elevated pod rooms intertwined with the existing trees.
The Phase 2
Continuing from phase 1 with a palette of materials such as rammed earth, bamboo, natural stone, and recycled timbers, new key elements such as composite SIP panels have also been incorporated. These can be seen in a number of roof structures and the spa building. This organic building comprises a series of domes with an undulating green roof that merges the building with the surrounding ecology.
With an extremely low carbon footprint, these panels use recycled and recyclable EPS with earth-based, fiber-
reinforced polymer renders which allow these panels to be strong, lightweight, and with high insulation. The new Lotus restaurant area contains a series of geometric pods that work like mini holistic cathedrals. These sit
over an auspicious junction of waterfalls, one of which has been newly created from a lake that has been
reintroduced into the center of the site. This lake which was once cut off for agricultural reasons has been brought back to life and essentially a micro-ecosystem has been revived, thus introducing light and ambiance to the site. This lake also functions as a reservoir to power the hydroelectric turbines. These are complemented by solar panels located in a parking area. A number of rooms have also been added, some perched over the lake and some are raised into the tree canopies at 9m in height. These luxury units are highly insulated from heat and sound, with generous space within and far-reaching views. Other facilities include a gym, a yoga pavilion, a naturalized pool, and a small conference room.
In conclusion, Ulaman Eco-Luxury Resort is groundbreaking in its cohesive and unique combination of sustainable technologies and materials. In addition, the preservation and revival of the surrounding ecosystem is nothing short of exemplary. Ulaman is a statement and testimony to what can be achieved when the client and architectural design team work together with a common goal to push the boundaries of what is possible to create sustainable intelligent design solutions.