Featuring its own 3D-printed coral reef, AMA Design’s GAIA is a low-impact concept hotel that floats on water, creating a new kind of natural retreat. Rose Dykins reports

During Dubai Design Week 2020, AMA Design revealed its blueprint for GAIA, a floating sustainable hotel designed to minimise its impact on nature.

Unlike your average waterfront resort, GAIA’s floating structure can be relocated to different destinations, as it isn’t fixed to the ground. Constructed from marine-grade lightweight composite materials – similar to those used for boats – it can be assembled on water.

GAIA’s different modules are pre-fabricated – so there is less waste material during construction –  and they accommodate the natural movement of water, to create a more comfortable experience for guests.

Inside, organic materials such as bamboo and timber would be used to reflect the feel of escaping to nature.AMA GAIA Floating Hotel“We wanted to create a new type of hospitality experience, testing the potential of emerging construction technologies to make a sustainable and innovative building,” says Andy Shaw, managing partner of AMA.

“Our proposal aims to allow people to re-connect with nature whilst making a building with minimal impact on nature. Most resorts struggle to give true peace and connection to nature due to their location and scale.

“We designed GAIA to be as natural and isolated as possible, whilst giving a calming, immersive experience for guests between the waters, sky and wildlife amongst them.”AMA GAIA Floating HotelAmong the facilities are a private, floating Vitamin D spa, where guests would book private booths to sunbathe while enjoying the views of the surrounding mangroves. These booths can be arranged so they float separately on the water, or reached by the jetty, depending on location.

Beneath the resort, a 3D-printed coral reef made from sequestered carbon – captured from the Earth’s atmosphere – would nurture the local environment and attract marine life, while underwater turbines and solar panels would provide renewable energy to power the building.

AMA GAIA Floating HotelAMA Design says that all of the technology needed to build GAIA is already available. The project would now need an ambitious developer to scale it up – or for an existing resort to use the structure to add rooms and facilities.

“We want to give a positive message, looking forward as we move out of the pandemic’s period in history,” says Naji Mahmoud, design partner of AMA.

“We think it is now the time to focus on the positive possibilities of the future. The pandemic has made people appreciate more their need for a natural environment, peace and space. Meanwhile, climate change is increasing as an urgent concern for designers to address.

“We think the future requires people to address global problems with a fresh mindset, and new architecture can express that with a different way of making buildings, and how we expect them to look and operate.”

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