BALI - A PARADISE LOST OR FOUND?
With its dreamlike beaches, blue crystalline waters and exuberant green of the picturesque paddy fields, Bali is widely projected to the world as a paradise on earth, whether for stay or visit. The traditional architecture in Bali basically originated from two sources: the great Hindu tradition brought to Bali from India via Java and the indigenous architecture pre-dating the Hindu epic (in many ways reminiscent of Polynesian buildings).
But over the decades, it's clearly evident that the traditional architecture style on this Indonesian island are giving way (or giving in?) to a more contemporary one. It's no surprise. Internationally-renowned architects have been pushing the envelope of tropical design for homes and resorts in Bali for some time, many of which are indeed worth a visit.
Clean, minimalistic lines and materials like glass and steel - elements you would associate with in cosmopolitan cities - are suddenly co-existing alongside traditional wood carvings and stones in local design. The introduction of these modern materials and the rapid growth of hotels, galleries and new homes (many of which are resided by foreigners) have produced mixed results.
Have a look at the Denpasar Residence as an example. Designed by GFAB Architects, this modest house is actually a combination of a newer structure with an existing old mansion. Boosting modern, fluid lines and curves, you probably think this house is located in some Californian neighborhood.
On the other hand, Architects Aboday's Villa Paya-Paya holiday home project saw the integration of a coconut leaf roof in an ultra modern architecture. The overall result retained the essence of tropical architecture much more.
The island is certainly 'westernized' to a certain degree. Richard Neutra's influence is apparent in Luna2, a private beachfront hotel designed by American architect David Wahl. The design of the exteriors and interiors gave little hint it's actually located in Bali.
Even local architects like Maria Paiva are getting into this modernizing act, playing up the natural lush greenery with his living spaces injected with a subtle contemporary sensibility at the Chandra Villas.
It would be interesting to see the future developments on this mystical island. As much as we love to see the design and architecture scene here firmly rooted in its authentic foundations and heritage, we are also keen to see what the influx of global concepts and ideas might bring to Bali.
Let's just hope it's not a paradise that's going to be lost in the process.
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