My first (unknowingly) encounter with a Biophilic Design project was almost ten years ago, when I was travelling in Morocco and spend the night in an ecolodge named: ‘Riad Baoussala’ near Essaouira. This place has made an unforgettable impression and I still recall the feeling of complete happiness it gave me. It truly is a paradise on earth.
I have started reading the book of Biophilic Design pioneer Stephen R. Kellert: ‘Biophilic Design – The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life’. In the first chapter he recalls a memory of a trip to Turkey he once made, during which he stayed in an exceptional hotel at the Aegean coast. This hotel was an intuitively designed space, that aroused all the senses and was in perfect harmony with the natural environment and social culture of the location. He immediately knew that a woman had designed this building. His suspicion turned out to be right and, in his opinion, this is due to a strong intuitive and sensory responsiveness to the natural environment that is exclusive to women.
I had a similar experience myself at the Riad Baoussala in Morocco. Coincidence or not, this ecolodge has also been designed by a woman; the French lady Dominique Choupin. She has organically shaped and built her creation together with local workforce / artisans and engineers, using local resources and materials. I especially recall the beautiful colors and outspoken diversity of all the spaces. Each spot in the lodge is an experience on its own and this way the lodge offers a suiting environment for all different moods and moments. A big, central courtyard is situated under the blue sky, with access to all the surrounding rooms. In a nice contrast with this bright space lies the shady, surrounding arcade, offering refuge from the mid-day heat and bright sunlight. On top of the roof there is a promenade terrace, from which you can oversee the courtyard and enjoy views of the landscape in all directions. All sorts of different gardens surround the central building, each providing a unique ambience and experience. The swimming pool and restaurant are located in a separate walled space, all built with natural materials and enhanced by beautiful lighting and lively colours. A most impressive additional feature is the open-air cinema, which is submerged in the deepest blue colours. It was, and still feels like, a dream.
If you are interested to learn more about this ecolodge, take a look at the website of Riad Baoussala: https://www.baoussala.com.