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Fig: 1 - The number of travellers is increasing every year with the record being 1.4 billion international tourist travels recorded in 2018.


New experiences are able to widen the extent of human thinking. According to scientists, our brain depends on this expanding reach and stimulating encounters to help in keeping the mind activated, which would otherwise atrophy like any other muscle. Apart from the scientific need, people are often looking for a means to relieve themselves from the stress of their intense work-life cycle.

A change is always a good remedy for a burdened mind, pushing it to creativity and innovation. People often try to pursue traveling as a means of accessing new experiences that take them to a distinct location, offering them an escape from their mundane daily lives.

The hotel industry is responsible for enhancing this travel expedition by providing comfort and convenience to the occupants at their doorstep. As the tourism industry flourishes, the expectations from hotels to deliver mere comfort have risen by the desire of travellers to be able to experience a whole new ambience as they live in it.

So, how can we push the envelope of this typology’s aspirations further, onto a new trail?

Fig: 2 - Structures tower over the entire skyline of the city, disregarding the natural water habitat surrounding the built form.


Hotels are part of the urban fabric of almost every city across the globe, as transportation enabled the travel and tourism industry. It is constantly growing, with more than 700,000 hotels, worth over $570 billion. The transformation of this industry has been immense from being mere stay places to becoming an icon worth visiting, in itself. But the scale of hotels, in pursuits of grandeur and heading above the competition, has ended up dominating the built heritage of the city.

The hotel industry is highly resource-intensive, but its development has come at the cost of the environment. Hotels provide accommodation to travellers in a range of locations that have their own environmental aspects. But the track of luxury leads them to believe that artificial measures alone can deliver the expected outcomes.

Can we think of a new way of delivering comfort but while protecting the environment from harm? How can we use the features of the site to reduce the need for artificial interventions? Can the natural attributes of a location be enhanced rather than diminished? How can we create new experiences in a simplistic yet holistic manner?

Fig: 3 - Underground living is practiced to reduce environmental impact and protect from the weather in some parts of the world.


A hotel may disrupt the city environment with its outlandish look, so perhaps a change can be experienced if it were to be encased into the site, concealed, as the design blends seamlessly into the surrounding context.

Design a subterranean resort, with the capacity of 100 rooms and other accommodative amenities.

The idea is to design a hotel that is partially under the surface of the earth. Underground construction techniques and materials can be used to deliver comfort. The feeling of being underground must be counteracted with openings for daylight, natural ventilation, and views of the site surrounding. Luxury and convenience are to be attained with conscious efforts.

The aim is to explore the possibility of designing a hotel with a stark approach. The misconception of comfort is achieved with maximum human effort is to be broken. Smart design interventions are capable of this while creating minimal impact on the site. Study of the context will ensure that the building performance achieved is optimal, by using existing and least amount of other resources.


Concept - the interface between the users and the terrain must be creative and stimulating to the visitors. The access points and navigation can be revealed through a journey over the site.

Comfort - the ambience of the hotel must deliver comfort and convenience at all times

Form - the aesthetics of design must attract visitors to the unique habitat.

Sustainable - reduce the negative impact of design on the environment, by improving building performance, reduce waste, and ensuring comfort for occupants

Context - the design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.


South Africa is a nation known for its wealth of natural landscapes that makes it a trending tourist spot. The country has a good mix of contemporary landmarks, mixed with heritage structures, all incorporated in its natural environment.

The site is located in Cape Town, SA. It is the greenest city in Africa, with mountains of Cape Peninsula and beaches on the Atlantic Oceanside. Biodiversity hotspots in the city are plenty, protected under national parks and wildlife reserves, making it a popular nature destination.

The site is in the seaside suburb of Hout Bay. The site in the valley offers views of mountains on all sides. It is a panoramic view of landscape since the construction around the site is low-lying and does not obstruct the view for anyone.

Site area - 8569 sqm
FAR - 1.0
Ground coverage - 50%
Height restrictions - 6m (above ground)
Coordinates - 34°00'58.3"S 18°22'52.1"E


The area programme for this exercise would be the same as any other resort with 100 rooms, but explorative spaces that compliment the subterranean experience can be added to them within the space constraints.

Spaces to stay - hotel rooms, villas, suites, etc.

Spaces for leisure - spa, lounge, courtyards, gift shop

Spaces for recreation - clubhouse, restaurant, bike track

Administration and staff offices