WALDORF ASTORIA BALI  |  Bali, Indonesia, 2010

On the southernmost tip of the island of Bali, steep 10-metre cliffs float over the Indian Ocean. The expansive site of the Waldorf Astoria resort gradually climbs up the hill with valleys on each side, resulting in a unique curvilinear topography.

The master plan for the resort embraces this terrain, and shapes it even further with villas laid out in concentric layers, terracing down the hill to the cliff's edge. This allows each villa to retain views of the majestic deep-blue horizon while logically organising circulation paths.

The one-, two- and three-bedroom villas are designed with exquisitely clean lines, flat roofs and contemporary resort finishes, a rare modern-luxury resort detached from the myriad clichéd 'Balinese-style' hotels saturating the touristic portions of the island. While contemporary, the design is cognisant of utilising generous outdoor decks along with landscaping, a mainstay of Balinese living. This, coupled with the tasteful use of local materials, finishes textures and motifs, affirms a sense of place in this modern Bali retreat.

The arrival pavilion sits atop the hill, where a large reflecting pool merges with the sea horizon, providing a dramatic welcome to visitors. Descending around the circumference of the circular water feature, the procession is distorted, teasing the auditory senses with the sound of a sloping waterfall bouncing off the conically sloped perimeter wall. The spa reception below also utilises the main water feature as a skylight for the main reception area, diffusing sharp sunligh into the deep cavernous space.

The formal arrival path ties into a central spine that links the arrival to the public areas at the cliff's edge, but also serves as a clear circulation hierarchy connecting the villa paths. This central circulation spine is defined by a processional stair flanked by cascading water features and lush landscaping, adding to the already unique sequences.

Beyond, the dining pavilions flow into the undulating terraced landscape with dramatic pools and a lookout pavilion overhanging the cliff's edge, heightening awareness of the vast drop in elevation below.