Eco-Retreat — Architecture Competition by

Call for Entries: “Eco-Retreat” | International Hospitality Building Hosted by UNI

Fig: 1 — Increased human activity has caused an unnatural effect on the tidal waves and so, flooding has become more frequent.


The built environment in every city is shaped by the economic, social, political, and physical aspects of its context. The economy exerts a bigger control over our built spaces than others since the finances that are provided will determine the scale and quality of the construction.

With urbanism gripping most cities, its aftereffects on the environment have compelled us to look for cost-effective solutions for the essential infrastructure of the built cities. But when it comes to luxury projects, the possibilities of design and construction are unlimited.

Finances are provided abundantly, and so premium levels of built spaces are expected. During this process, the natural environment and its constraints may get neglected, due to the availability of high-end materials and technology. We need to understand that our ability to pay money does not entitle us to control over nature.

In the event of financial abundance, do we end up neglecting the well-being of nature?

Fig: 2 — Opulent projects are part of tourist cities that are the epitome of luxury.


Coastal cities around the world are popular, concentrated centers of human activity. They are scenic destinations known for their access to water habitats and beachfront. The cities have unique geography that is rich in geology, flora, and fauna that is endemic to the particular region.

Nowadays, coastal cities are suffering from the tangible and visible effects of climate change and sea-level rise. The low-lying plains are prone to flooding, which poses a huge threat to the construction and investment in the area.

The waterfronts and floodplains in coastal regions have a unique ecosystem. Any construction that is a part of this habitat must be built to not obstruct the natural balance of systems. Built environments are designed to provide comfort to users at any cost, but if this is done at the cost of the natural environment.

How can construction be planned for resilience and preservation of the attributes of its settings?

Fig: 3 — A large area is cleared out to make space for these resorts.


Luxury projects cater to a high-income clientele that calls for grand, expensive settings. These commercial retreats offer a plethora of services that are staff and money-intensive as well.

Brief: The challenge is to design a beach resort that emulates luxury and comfort but not at the cost of inflicting damage to its natural setting.

The resort design must be luxurious and conscientious. It can be inspired by the beachfront, water, or the emerging and historic context of the site. A theme and concept are to be used to align the design features of the project. The project must strive to enhance the existing ecosystem with contributory interventions.

The intended aim of the design is to reflect on general construction practice and its effects on the environment. The footprint of the design is to be limited without compromising the quality of the built spaces. The hospitality industry generally operates with high resources and maintenance so this has to be minimized to promote preservation.


  • Harmony: The design must establish some harmony or connection with the surroundings while having outstanding features.
  • Balance: Privacy and interaction must be guided in the layout as per the nature of the activity. The balance between aesthetics and functionality, as well as open, semi-open, and closed learning spaces.
  • Sustainable: Reduce the negative impact of design on the environment, by improving building performance, reducing waste, and ensuring comfort for occupants.
  • Context: The design must respond to the (existing) site conditions. The wider socio-cultural, economic, and environmental settings are to be considered in the design approach.


Fig: 4 — Site image

Cape Town, South Africa

The coastline of South Africa extends along two coasts, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. The unique geography of the nation creates diverse terrain and biodiversity hotspots for several species of flora and fauna.

The site or the challenge is in Cape Town, South Africa. The city is known for its harbor and natural settings and landmarks which make it a popular tourist destination. The landscape is a mix of picturesque mountains, beaches, valleys, and coastal plains. Urbanization has caused a scarcity of resources in the city and a spike in pollution leading to environmental degradation. While the poor people struggle with poverty and survival, the economic capacity of richer groups is extended to cater to international tourists and their expensive demands.

The site is adjacent to Dolfyn street which runs along False Bay into the city. There are many recreational landmarks and resorts in the vicinity of the site which makes it a popular tourist destination. The site offers views of the beach across the road.

  • Site area = 43,745 sq.m
  • Phase 1 construction = 6000 sq.m
  • Height restriction = 10 metres
  • Ground coverage = 40%
  • Maximum FAR: 1
  • Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
  • Coordinates = 34°08'15.4"S 18°50'44.1"E


The following programmatic outline is the point to begin your design at. You can add more functions and activities in relevance or modify the below design program.

  • Spaces to stay: 60 Rooms for guests (tiered hierarchy: suites, villas, etc)
  • Spaces to explore: Gardens and walking tracks,
  • Spaces for leisure: Spa and sauna, gym, restaurant, swimming pool, bar lounge
  • Spaces to recreate: Game room, children’s play area
  • Administration and Services: Offices, Maintenance, and utility, Toilets/Washrooms

Find all the competition brief, terms, and other registration guidelines on this

page: Eco-Retreat|Hospitality Building Architecture Competition on UNI|About

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