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Maldives Resort Design Experiencer



by YK Tan, Interior Designer, Oriwise

I started my design career by designing a resort in Maldives. It is about an interesting experience of putting together natural material, textures, light and shadow to create forms & spaces. In my first Maldivian resort project, I learned to design with minimalist design language. The design shall be basic, letting the building material speaks for itself. The aim is to create a relaxing setting for the guests to enjoy the environment through their sensation.


In Maldives, Mother Nature is the only and the most precious resource they own. As such, the building regulations and guidelines reflects the intention of the local authority to conserve the nature as much as possible. One of the interesting guidelines is: the maximum building height must not be higher than the tallest tree on the island.

During the design process, we follow the guideline to control the building height lower than the native coconut trees. Unfortunately, during the construction period, most of the trees died due to pollution caused by the machineries and building waste. At the end of the construction, in order to comply with the regulation, we have to transplant the tree from other island. Though the end product is seemingly very “green” and nature friendly, it is actually very “man-made”. Sad to say that, while we enjoy spending our holiday time in one of these resort, we are actually consuming the nature as a commercial product (Figure1).

Not to forget nature is the most indispensable part of resort living experience. In order for us to continue enjoying this experience, the message of conserving the nature during construction must be clear at all time. Maybe a more sustainable building method will be the solution.





Johor Bahru is undergoing a fast track transformation, hopefully into a well-developed metropolitan. As much as we are glad to see this economic boom, we are also very concern that our natural green land will be overly exploited.

The Maldivian resort shows the economic value of these low-rise development to the tourist market. While the developers/ investors are planning how to make full use of the land they owned to build houses/shopping malls, perhaps they should consider section out some part of their land for some nicely designed resort. In a way, it could also be a very good reason for them to conserve some of the natural habitat.

We do have many resorts at other parts of Malaysia. However sad to say that most of them are not properly design. This could be due to budget constraint. I see Johor Bahru has great potential to produce “worldclass”resort design as we are developing “worldclass” property developments which target to Singaporeans and international buyers. It is important to have the understanding that a well-designed resort can definitely add value to the property development and put us to the level of international market.

The following articles showcase are extraced from Convergence ( a Raffles University Iskandar’s student publication – de.YARD ) on SKETCH Design Talks organize by renown Architect AR. Yap Tew Peng and Yvonne Yap of Y.Architect in Johor Bahru.

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