Kudadoo: The most sustainable resort in the Maldives?

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(CNN) – Many architects would kill to be given a blank slate to create their dream project.

But when award-winning architect Yuji Yamazaki agreed to design the Kudadoo Maldives private island, which opened in 2018 and consists of 15 overwater residences, he was thinking about how his building could showcase the island, and not the other. around

His approach was to build in a way that highlighted the natural beauty of the island, using as few natural resources as possible.

“The real concept is how we can show this beautiful nature that already exists, namely the white and clean beach and clear water,” explains Yamazaki. “Those are the elements we wanted to keep.”

First on the list of priorities: clean energy.

Although solar power is becoming more and more common in the Maldives, Yamazaki didn’t like the fact that so many hotels and resorts tried to hide the panels behind buildings as if they were embarrassing or ugly.

Instead, he and his team designed their own panels and incorporated them into the resort’s overall aesthetic. Today, Kudadoo remains the country’s only private island powered entirely by solar energy.

“We decided to design a large public building with a solar roof,” says Yamazaki. “In terms of the power calculation, it was a sufficient scale footage to cover or supply electricity to the entire island.”

Aerial view of Kudadoo Station.

Kudadoo Maldives private island

In addition to creating something beautiful and useful, Yamazaki had another goal in mind for his solar panels: education.

“When you go to the Maldives, you usually arrive by seaplane or boat, so the first impression of the resort is always a rooftop or a building in the distance,” he explains. “Instead of hiding it, we showed that we made it the main character of the island, so that people can come (when seen).”

This juxtaposition is what Yamazaki wanted to achieve. Travelers may come to the Maldives for luxury and beautiful surroundings, but the architect hopes they will also leave with a responsibility to preserve the islands.

In his opinion, sustainability is not an extra hidden behind a building. Instead, it’s a beautiful design element placed in the most prominent position possible.

A sinking nation

The low-lying islands of the Maldives are at serious risk due to climate change.

According to the predictions of NASA, in coordination with the United States Geographical Survey, the entire country could be completely underwater by 2050.

He said: “Our islands are slowly being flooded by the sea, one by one. If we do not reverse this trend, the Maldives will cease to exist by the end of this century.”

One of the 15 villas in Kudao.

One of the 15 villas in Kudao.

Kudadoo Maldives private island

Yamazaki also sounds the alarm.

“The concern is becoming more visible and louder. The sea is rising much faster than scientists predicted. The people of the Maldives are very worried. We have been going to new resorts and doing a lot of research on erosion and shoreline protection.”

But the architect is trying to be even more proactive in his approach.

“As architects, we are here to build a new environment,” he says. “We make sure we show what’s going on underwater, not just sea level rise, but what’s going on with sea temperature, why the coral is dying or why the fish migration is different this year… We also like to bring people’s attention to that as well.”

A stretch of that famous white sand in Kudadoo.

A stretch of that famous white sand in Kudadoo.

Kudadoo Maldives private island

As more and more travelers learn about sustainability and specifically look for properties that rely on natural fuels and energy sources, the architect believes that brands and destinations will follow.

“I think a lot of developers, architects, investors … are becoming more aware of why people come here — beyond the typical five-star hotel stay. What are the best points? The water, the weather, the breeze, the view. I think those are the elements that are important. . Instead of building a big fun pool and bar lounge, I think a lot of investors are not only doing that, but trying to channel some of the profits into a local community to clean up the environment.”

Private pools, world-class wine lists and doing something good for the environment all at the same time? now that it looks luxurious.