Tropical utopias: The best contemporary Indonesian architecture of 2022
by Jerry ElengicalDec 25, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Anmol AhujaPublished on : Feb 26, 2022
Bali's prowess as a destination among tourists from across the world is no mystery; the Indonesian haven nurtures a unique confluence of landscapes that has bode well for the island nation to emerge as a major destination in South Asia. Over the past few years, however, Bali’s visiting demographic has seen a sharp rise in creatives rushing to the place to seek seclusion and inspiration - and rightly so. Beaches, hills, rainforests, a looming volcano, lush terraced rice fields, and a loosely urbanised landscape to tie all of them together congruously spell "unwinding" for a number of creative professionals who must dwell within peri-urban confines. Offering a rich choice of virtually untouched landscapes, which the Balinese people are fiercely protective of and passionate about, this truly is the land of the gods, with a now booming architectural character. WYAH Creative space, designed by PSA studio as a multifunctional artists' retreat in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, is testament to that emergent character, and by the looks of it, a positive beacon of the creative ushering I was talking about.
Composed of cocoon-like pods that appear suspended in the forested region of Ubud, the building's rather essential bid to merge with nature is fulfilled by respecting the contour of the land that holds the site and its structures. A variable interplay between levels is introduced because of that. By preserving the site's original levels and nearly all of the trees that can be seen pirouetting through the space, the architects claim that a "deeper connection with nature" is initiated.
Another response to that brief occurs in the planning of the space and its final formulation. Hard edges and orthogonality are completely eliminated from the design. The plan of each of the singular pods, manifested as extensive lookout decks in timber, is in the form of a rounded polygon, acknowledging the edges of the unique site. Capping the structures is a cascading roof covered in ‘sirap’, described by the architects as “iron wood”. The sirap heaves the roof profile, offset reductively from the profile of the deck in a shingle-like, tiled arrangement almost. Mirroring that, a similar profile emanates from the deck’s railing, clad in timber.
Structurally, the assembly is held together by pipe columns in clusters, scattered akin to tree trunks along the site. The entire 'pod' is lifted off the ground using these columns, while the elevation harbours additional seating space on the ground floor beneath. A winner of a view though is reserved for decks scooped out on top of these 'cocoons', placing the forested setting within an arm’s reach.
The unitary yet interconnected nature of the individual pods also allows for an absence of walls within the premises, except the private areas. While "no walls" may be a somewhat romanticised notion of the art and creative processes WYAH seeks to propagate, the architects feel that it helps build a very dynamic relationship with natural phenomena, indulging all of the five human senses in the process. While at this art and creative space, guests are exposed to thermal and temperature changes, wind, humidity, the smell of rain, natural light, and shadow. As such, the place also prides itself on completely eliminating the use of air-conditioning, also leading to reduction in energy consumption.
"The result of avoiding existing trees and adapting to the contour level creates a unique spatial sensation and connection between people, the space, and nature. The flowing lines of contoured land are articulated in the roof and railing pattern," states the team at Parisauli Arsitek Studio on their natural inspirations shaping the WYAH Art and Creative Space.
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