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Saturday, October 03, 2009

5** Spa Hotel, Andalusia, Spain

Year-round retreat for those with 5 star lifestyle
Through a competitive interview process of an international shortlist of architects that included Thomas Heatherwick and David Adjaye, Amin Taha were selected to conduct a masterplan for this Residential Hotel Resort. The brief called for a 5** Spa hotel and 200 homes that together would create an all year round retreat community.

The challenges seen and highlighted through the interview process were in part related to the design/construction logistics of the very steep site but mostly targeted at how to set a precedent for sustainable development along a coastline that is disappearing under heavy urbanisation; How to avoid destroying the reason for being there in the first place; and How to form a believable community with working social spaces that go beyond the serviced apartment concept?

The architects' approach was to combine planning height guidelines with passive environmental controls mainly through thermal mass. With part cut and part fill the development would essentially be buried under local flora with grey and rainwater storage irrigating the more heavily landscaped social areas. Glazing being set far enough in to avoid solar gain during hotter months but allow it during winter and with cross ventilation brought in using solar chimneys. The ‘dug-in carved-out’ theme is continued with communal pools that join to external terraces and pedestrian routes and expand in areas to create an urban framework. A hierarchy of public spaces is centred at the hotel whose facilities are slightly fragmented to stand alone as it were around the village square.

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