SINGAPORE—Come 2023, a new resort experience will open to guests at Mandai, bringing them closer to nature through a biophilic design that integrates the buildings with their natural surroundings. The design of the new Mandai resort will be helmed by local architectural firm, WOW Architects.
Speaking on the appointment of WOW Architects, Mike Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) said, “WOW Architects’ concept demonstrated the best design response to our brief, one that will bring our guests closer to nature. We have brought together the strengths of two homegrown brands, WOW Architects and Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. We are confident that they will be able to translate our vision into the design and operations for our new resort. Through carefully crafted design features and programmed activities, the Mandai resort experience will encourage guests to be conscious of and care for the plants and animals in the surrounding rainforest. This is consistent with our core belief that we must all work together to protect wildlife.”
Design Features for a ‘Conscious Stay’
The 4.6-hectare site for the 338-room resort currently houses the Singapore Zoo’s back-of-house facilities. The resort will be carefully integrated into the site, which will be enriched through the planting of native tree species. Visitors will feel immersed in the surrounding nature, which they will be encouraged to enjoy in a non-intrusive manner.
“We are excited to be part of a project that aims to be an exemplary showcase of sustainable development practices,” said Wong Chiu Man, Managing Director, WOW Architects. “Our building and its systems adopt a biophilic attitude, by blending into nature and becoming part of it, while creating an engaging and comfortable environment for the guests. The resort was designed with the native flora and fauna as inspiration, and the architecture and interior design will showcase the biodiversity of Mandai for guests to appreciate and learn from. When completed, the building and the landscape will become a holistic, immersive experience.”
WOW Architects’ concept is mindful of the existing vegetation and treelines as well as natural topography. Wherever possible, the resort is elevated several meters above the ground to allow native wildlife to move across the site. It is also designed to be unobtrusive, sitting below the upper canopy layer of the surrounding trees. In addition to extensive planting at the roof and façade of the resort buildings, more than half the trees on the site will be retained, of which 40 percent are of conservation value. The re-greening effort will enhance the site’s biodiversity through thoughtful planting strategies that will both promote native species on the site of the resort and double the number of trees from today.
In line with this theme of celebrating nature, the resort’s standard and family rooms will offer views into the rainforest. Twenty-four elevated treehouses are being designed in the shape of seed-pods and will be set amongst the trees surrounding the resort.
Aiming to be the first Super Low Energy (SLE) resort in Singapore, active steps will be taken to adopt sustainable and environmentally-friendly best practices. The design will incorporate a host of energy saving measures including the use of natural ventilation, mixed mode air-conditioning and solar panels. The treehouses will also feature passive displacement ventilation, a solution that cools air using chilled water rather than traditional air-conditioning compressor units.
Guest Education and Programming for a ‘Conscious Stay’
The resort will actively engage guests to promote environmental awareness, sustainable best practices and the conservation of biodiversity. For example, guests will be encouraged to reduce energy and water consumption in their rooms, practice recycling, dispose their food waste responsibly, and be respectful of the surrounding flora and fauna.
At the doorstep of the resort will be all the wildlife parks and nature-themed indoor attractions where the guests will be able to enjoy a specially curated program of activities, including behind-the-scenes programs, guided nature walks and hand-on activities. These activities will promote a conscious way of life, one that is more in harmony with the natural world.
‘Unprecedented Yet Sensitive Access to Nature’
Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings said, “The future Mandai Wildlife District is designed to provide unprecedented yet sensitive access to nature for people from all walks of life. As like-minded partners, Banyan Tree is aligned with MPH’s mission and focus in wildlife conservation and education. Celebrating and championing 25 years of sustainable development, Banyan Tree has pioneered the journey of stewardship in its commitment towards the environment and communities through our philosophy of ‘Embracing the Environment, Empowering People’. Steeped in our signature Asian hospitality, we look forward to creating authentic accommodation experiences, and operating in this unique eco-sensitive setting to highlight and inspire active guest participations into resort sustainability efforts at Mandai.”
As the lead design architect, WOW Architects will be working alongside a team of specialist consultancies to ensure the sustainable design and development of the resort. The consultancies involved are Atelier Ten (Environmental Sustainability Design), Arup (Mechanical & Electrical), Bo Steiber (Lighting), Ramboll Environ (Ecology), Ramboll Studio Drieseitl (Landscape Architect), Warner Wong Design (Interior Design) and Web Structures (Structural Engineers).
A working group consisting of academics and professionals will also provide guidance and expert inputs across a variety of functions that are relevant to the resort’s design and development including landscape, education, sustainability, ecology, horticulture and acoustics.