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Times 19 May 07
Designer villas go green
A residential project in Bali managed by a S'pore-based group has won the coveted Green Globe certification, reports Cheah Ui-Hoon
LIVING ecologically doesn't mean one has to live in a grass hut, even if you can have designer thatched huts like the typical Alang-Alang huts in Bali.
Upscale, designer architecture is finally catching up with 'green consciousness' - in this part of the world, at least - with Bali soon to have its first certified 'green' villas designed by award-winning Singapore architecture firm, Woha.
Alila Villas Uluwatu - located at Bukit Peninsula, the southernmost coast of Bali - is set to be the dream home for the ecologically minded tycoon. The Bukit area about half an hour south of the airport boasts several other 'branded' developments close by, such as the Bulgari hotel, and resorts like Four Seasons, Intercontinental and Ritz-Carlton at Jimbaran Bay.
The first residential project of its kind to be managed by the Singapore-based Alila hotels and resorts group, the 28 US$2 million hillside villas fulfil the stringent requirements of Green Globe certification, the highest level of certification for environmentally sustainable design.
'The investment is higher (than a normal project), but it's worth it,' declares Franky Tjahyadikarta, one of the principals of PT Bukit Uluwatu Villa, which is the developer of Alila Villas Uluwatu.
Mr Tjahyadikarta says that pushing the environmental design envelope was also an idea mooted by Woha when they were approached to be the architects of the villa.
The planning and design for the Alila Villas Uluwatu project - which encompasses 41 one-bedroom villas for the hotel, five cliffside villas, and hotel facilities such as a clifftop bar and restaurant, a spa, fitness centre, swimming pool and library - started in 2003.
Architect Richard Hassell says that convincing the developers to go for an environmentally sensitive design wasn't difficult.
The result is villas which are built from Ulim wood recycled from old wooden telephone poles and railway sleepers, local stones such as batu putih jogya and batu candi are used for feature walls, and black volcanic rocks cover the flat rooftops for natural insulation and where cacti and other plant life will sprout.
'We'll also be harvesting rain water which will be collected in large soak-away tanks at the bottom of the hill for the watering of the gardens; and Alila has also signed on to buy power from an upcoming electrical wind farm,' says Mr Hassell, who's a partner of Woha.
Alila Villas Uluwatu is slated for completion late next year.
Given that Uluwatu's savannah climate is arid and dry, the landscaping - which is also by Singapore-based company, Cicada - retains the use of plants which are native to the area.
In fact, thanks to its innovative design, Alila Villas Uluwatu is already making its mark on the international property development market ahead of its expected opening in 2008.
Woha recently won a commendation for its design of Alila Villas Uluwatu in an international property market trade event, MIPIM, under the retail and leisure category. This is also Woha's first environmentally minded project of this scale, says Mr Hassell.
Confident of sales of its residential villas, Mr Tjahyadikarta feels private villas in Bali have always sold well to the rich and famous since the 1970s, a time when upmarket villas in Batu Djimbar designed by internationally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa drew celebrity residents like Mick Jagger, Yoko Ono and Phil Collins.
'Bali is unique, and there are more upmarket brands here than any other resort destination in Asia. Now, domestic tourism is strong, and the Europeans are coming back. Bali is finally recovering from the events since 2001,' he reckons, when asked about the current buying sentiment.
Like other upscale developments in Bali, Alila Villas Uluwatu has a strong design element. But in this case, its particular edge is its environmental sensitivity - so its wealthy owners need not feel guilty about leaving a large ecological footprint on the tropical island paradise.
Green Globe Certification
GREEN Globe is the only global environmental affiliate benchmarking and certification programme for the travel and tourism industry.
It's designed to actively support the industry to make genuine and important improvements in both the local and international environment. It's based on Agenda 21 and principles for sustainable development endorsed by 182 heads of state at the United Nations' Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.
For a project to be certified, it has to meet a list of criteria which include greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency conservation and management, ecosystem conservation and management, management of social and cultural issues, land use planning and management, air quality protection and noise control, waste water management and waste minimisation reuse and recycling.
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