How Biophilic Design Is Making Waves With Wellness In The Maldives

At JOALI BEINGthe first dedicated wellness island in the Maldives, the latest achievements in the wellbeing sector are not only offered through a rich range of therapies, but are also found in the design of the resort itself.

Conceived by a multidisciplinary design studio based in Istanbul, Autobanand interior design company, Atolye 4N – both also led the concept design for the brand’s sister resort JOALI, on the neighboring island of Muravandhoo – JOALI BEING was built with biophilic design principles at its heart. The scientific system of architecture and design works on the integration of nature within the building, with the aim of achieving harmony by eliminating negative vibrations and improving energy flow.

Located on Bodufushi Nature Island in Raa Atoll, the resort basically has a ‘light footprint’. For example, the island’s wild forest interior has been left untouched, and the 68 villas – known as ‘well-dwelling spaces’, located on the beach or over the water – incorporate natural features throughout. All have private pools and a range of unique offerings, such as custom ‘wellness bars’, meditative musical instruments, well-being games and attention-enhancing furniture. Floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors mean every space is filled with light and connects you to the vivid turquoise hues of the ocean outside. Sculptural elements – such as wavy-patterned walls, bathroom doors that appear to be made of sea glass and textured pillows – reflect the natural world that makes the Maldives so spectacular.

JOALI BEING also boasts a collection of transformational spaces spread across the island that are also designed using biophilic principles. AREKA, for example, is the entrance to treatment rooms, diagnostic services and learning programs. Your journey begins by following a series of steps covered by a trickle of water, palm leaves brushing your hands as you go. It is the magical beginning of every wellness journey.

MORE is one of the most beautiful areas on the island – an oval, glass aromatherapy and herbology center decorated with hanging dried herbs and flowers. Here, guests can interact with a resident herbalist, who can prepare herbal teas for any type of physical or mental ailment, create natural cosmetics and massage oils, and offer workshops for guests to learn more about the science behind the health benefits of herbs. and oils.

There is a sound therapy room and a magical sound discovery path – located within a palm enclave. As you venture deeper into the tropical trees, you encounter a series of nine unique instruments, designed to resonate with the island’s natural rhythms.

At CORE – The center of the JOALI BEING movement – the architecture echoes ancient Mayan temples, with its open pyramidal shape and 16 meter high ceiling. In addition to the top gym, here guests can experience cryotherapy and a series of pilates, kickboxing and dance classes.

The first of its kind in the Maldives, JOALI BEING offers fully personalized results-oriented transformation programs, with the ultimate goal of guests returning home refreshed, uplifted and with a new sense of ‘weightlessness’. Design, say the architects, is an integral part of achieving that.

To learn more, here, exclusively for Forbes, Seyhan Özdemir, co-founder of Autoban, reveals more about why biophilic design is so beneficial.

What does biophilic design mean to you and why is it important for the well-being of guests?

JOALI BEING was built according to the principles of biophilic design, which means the integration of architecture and design with nature. The idea is that with the right design factors you can achieve harmony and improve energy flow. This is achieved in a collection of unique transformation spaces, where immersive therapies are offered. Here, guests are offered opportunities for reflection and healing, from sound treatments to hydrotherapy; herbology to learn more about nutrition. It was important for them to be ‘at one’ with nature.

The guest villas are also designed with biophilic principles in mind, while maintaining the beauty and balance of the existing natural habitat. Each villa is in harmony with the natural environment, which in itself will improve the atmosphere that the guest will have.

Inspiration is taken from the ocean – the coastline, waves, shell shapes and turquoise. The architecture features relaxed, flowing lines that also serve as an extension of the Indian Ocean. In essence, we took the philosophy of ‘Joy in Weightlessness’ and translated it into his architecture through biophilic design.

What are the architectural details in the guest villas?

The gently curved roofs look as if they are only slightly placed above the structures. The interior space is maximized with transparent or movable partitions to make you feel like there is almost no barrier between you and the outside world. Hexagonal rattan columns open or close to reveal living spaces dotted with bespoke Autoban furniture, in a soothing color palette of ivory, gold and the softest greens, pinks and blues. Every detail has been chosen to evoke the essence of the ocean and the island, with a grain of sand pattern on the stucco-clad walls and mosaics depicting the hypnotic traces of waves in the sand.

What was the meaning of the color palette that was used?

Mint green, shell pink and neutral shades make up a gentle color palate that mimics the natural environment and induces relaxation and calmness.

The Maldives naturally bursts with bright colors, how to ‘compete’ and complement this when designing interiors in such a destination?

The interior does not compete with the vibrancy of the exterior environment, but rather absorbs and reflects that vibrancy through open, flowing spaces and softer tones used in different materials. Design shapes, materials, textures and patterns throughout the resort are used to achieve harmony and cohesion with the natural environment. So you’ll find natural driftwood in restaurants, grooved rocks in spas, and everywhere we’ve used soft creams and pinks of sand and natural shells, as well as the blue of the jeweled ocean.

In terms of architecture, what sets JOALI BEING apart from other resorts?

JOALI BEING is truly the first of its kind in the Maldives. Located on the secluded natural island of Bodufushi in the Raa Atoll, the resort aims to combine limitless luxury with a natural approach, and is based on the philosophy of ‘weightlessness’. Autoban’s architectural and interior design narrative derives entirely from this philosophy, with the aim of offering guests a transformative and purifying stay by discarding all unnecessary excess, reconnecting with oneself and the environment, and getting closer to nature.

Applying biophilic principles through a distinctive, layered design approach, nature is at the very core of the design, emphasizing detail and materiality to create multi-sensory interactions. All structural elements are designed to achieve a sense of lightness, with a linear and flowing architecture that seems to float gently in place, simultaneously part of the natural environment while also gently floating above it.

In all areas, shapes, patterns and textures have been used to mimic the configurations of nature along with sumptuous surfaces and delicate touches to evoke the spirit of the island and create natural, comfortable and warm spaces. As with any Autoban design, a comprehensive approach ensures that all exterior and interior spaces work in harmony to contribute to a distinct design story.

The resort therefore stands out for its unique blend of nature and architecture, with plenty of space and high ceilings, with custom marble finishes, furniture and fittings, which truly sets it apart from other properties.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the design of some of the wellness areas?

Transformative spaces are being developed across the island, offering endless inspiration. AREKA, for example, has quiet zones, with separate male and female hydrotherapy areas, along with facilities such as an ice cave, sauna, steam room, vital pools and a garden. This entry building to the expansive spa ushers guests into a soothing, den-like space, the starting point for a journey toward transformation. The surfaces are rhythmically and organically textured with meticulous handwork, imitating the natural grooves on the rocks carved by centuries of waves.

In KAASHA, the hydrotherapy room, inspiration is taken from the ocean. Each treatment room is designed to enhance specific treatments. The Watsu pool, for example, has dimmed lights, beautiful mosaic tiles and a ceiling with LED lights that mimic the constellations. Meanwhile, the Turkish bath takes you inside an authentic hammam with its white marble surfaces, while the Aufguss sauna has a Scandinavian feel with its windows looking out onto the tropical forest.

CORE, the largest fitness center in the Maldives, is designed with high ceilings and is also surrounded by nature. It is equipped with Technogym and Nohrd equipment, while group sound bath sessions are held in the adjacent pyramid-shaped movement area.

At SEDA, a dedicated sound therapy room, architect and sound researcher, Aurelio C Hammer, designed the space, perfecting the acoustics and vibrations for the ultimate sound healing.

What is the design ethos of the restaurant?

Restaurant FLOW is an open dining area with three exhibition kitchens, each dedicated to a range of culinary styles. Su serves pescatarian, Plantae offers vegan and vegetarian options, while Be Well specializes in meat and poultry. The restaurant is designed with indoor and outdoor spaces, with a three-level terrace that opens onto the beach, where guests can dine under the stars.

Meanwhile, MOJO is a laid-back beach haven with a three-tier sunset-facing pool, perfect for sunset drinks.

What is your favorite area of ​​JOALI BEING or the place you are most proud of?

One of the areas we, as a design team, are most proud of is the award-winning FLOW interactive open-plan dining space. Under a dramatic and undulating roof that reflects the movement of the ocean, the interiors are inspired by beach textures such as driftwood, coral, seashells and fishing nets. Layered outdoor seating platforms seem to float straight onto the beach, and shiny marble steps descend smoothly into the sand.

Is there any notable art in JOALI BEING?

The Kiss – a unique sculpture found outside AREKA – is by celebrated Turkish artist, Ebru Döşekçi. This contemporary artwork uses clean lines and smooth textures to convey serenity and weightlessness. Evoking a sense of passion and romance, the intertwined pistachio and salmon crescents express the sensual fusion of masculine and feminine.

Tell us about GATE ZERO.

Gate of Zero was designed by Turkish artist and sculptor, Seckin Pirim. The complex geometry is inspired by the skirts of the whirling dervish. It is the first point of contact for a guest arriving on the island and serves as a gateway. This is where guests begin their journey of transcendence, from being to becoming, letting go of the ego and starting from scratch.

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Forbes – Lifestyle

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