Artist and architect Robert Powell's concept for Kamalaya
Artist and architect Robert Powell's concept for Kamalaya was to create a place that integrates with its surrounding landscape. Kamalaya's site is a hilltop that overlooks a pristine coastline. Ancient granite boulders, streams, and tropical vegetation combine to offer an ideal retreat setting.
Existing rocks and trees became the defining elements for many of Kamalaya's buildings. For example, the Wellness reception area unfolds from a natural rock wall and twin tree trunks; the Rock Top Villa is designed to include ancient, granite boulders that are present throughout Kamalaya.
To preserve the natural environment, over one hundred and fifty trees were transplanted and an eco-friendly water purification system was implemented. The resulting "Spirit of Place" communicates a connection to nature, the elements, and the environment.
Drawing upon local materials, each building is a balance of raw nature paired with elegant detailing. The resulting spaces impart a sense of lightness and ease of movement.
The roofs provide a stabilizing balance and shaded refuge. Of locally made cement tiles, chosen for their durability, they will blend with nature as they age, acquiring a deeper patina with each monsoon.
The cross ventilation system designed for the villas and suites optimizes Kamalaya's valley setting. As an alternative to the air-conditioning available in all accommodation, Robert designed wide, sliding screened doors with opposing windows to maximize the natural breeze flowing up the valley from the ocean.
Kamalaya's pool setting is inspired after the traditional ritual bathing areas of Nepal and India, with their stone steps and ghats, or quais. The main pool is set within flowering lotus ponds, waterfalls, and smaller multi-level pools accessed by stone walkways. The stone detailing, as in the meditating Buddha, and the entrance tunnel over the pool, also draw from Robert's love of Himalayan architecture. The overall effect is a welcoming, refreshing oasis.
The overall place of Kamalaya in this way is a reflection of its wellness concept, that a connection to nature is a vital, nurturing element integral to one's overall health and wellbeing.
To quote Robert Powell, "Few designers have the privilege to work with such a site and such a brief. I was clear that this rare chance must be reflected in a respect for the beauty and integrity of the land and its special character."