Scape Design: RECONNECTING TO NATURE
Philip Jaffa, founder, Scape Design looks at the art of hotel landscape design.
Hotels and resorts have changed significantly over the past two decades, driven by guest expectations. This started with the growth of modern resorts before merging with the culture of the wider wellness industry and finally embracing a more holistic and integrated approach to sustainability, circular economies and becoming better custodians of our planet.
Increasingly, humankind has been searching for more meaningful experiences that are original and offer cultural integrity. This has led to an inner desire to find that missing connection – often through luxury travel, immersion in spiritual and well-being practices and tourism to the untouched, beautiful parts of the globe. There is now widespread acknowledgement of the benefits that connection with the natural world brings us, as well as connection to other communities and ultimately reconnection with ourselves.
These values lie at the heart of what we, as landscape designers, do. We work to find simple, yet pioneering ways to promote inner balance and harmony for guests through intelligent design and tried and tested processes, and above all, by listening deeply to what the land has to tell us.
The wonderful thing about our work is that no two projects are the same, because no two pieces of land are the same. Every project therefore already comes with its own sense of identity or “Genius Loci” – sense of place. This is our starting point.
We work as much as possible with the natural contours of the land and encourage the architects to blend the buildings into the natural landscape whenever feasible – offering the best possible orientation for each building according to climate, light and views, while also ensuring ease of operational flow. When we listen to the land, certain things become obvious – where to place the sunset bar or morning yoga deck for example, or position and orientate a grove of shady trees to provide moments of respite from the sun. Moreover, we find the unexpected, like a unique rockface that cries out for us to connect the design with it. Ultimately, we are seeking to create spaces that facilitate an emotional exchange and offer discovery in meaningful ways.
At our core, landscape designers should be storytellers, leading guests on exciting, playful, and often whimsical journeys that celebrate all that is good in feeling alive on the land. We are influenced by the local community and culture, its artisans, its history and its agriculture. And through our work we promote harmony, well-being, connection and an increase in local biodiversity, especially through the planting of more trees, the lungs of the planet.
From day one, knowledge of human behaviour and humankind’s deep-rooted emotional response to nature has been integral to everything my practice, Scape Design, has created. For 22 years, we have been committed to engaging with, and furthering debate on how best to reconnect humanity with nature through our tourism projects. Now, as the hospitality sector faces many reputational challenges, I believe that landscape design should provide genuine context, pleasure and, yes, a greater respect for our world.
Image credit: Fairmont Taghazout