Architecture, Muscat, Oman, Perkins+Will, Steven Velegrinis, Sustainable tourism, The Mount

Architects will be challenged to design with complex levels of environmental intelligence, says Perkins+Will’s Steven Velegrinis

The director of Cities+Sites at Perkins+Will Dubai, Steven Velegrinis, said designing for a resilient and ecologically sensitive form of tourism should combine environmental planning with cultural heritage conservation.

“Resilience here refers to the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience,” he said. “Equally, this relates to the ability of elements of natural and cultural heritage to be resilient to increasing tourism numbers.”

The Mount by Perkins+Will Dubai, a hospitality project in Muscat

According to the latest MENA Hotel Construction Report by TopHotelProjects, 83 hotels are set to open across the UAE this year with another 200 in the pipeline.

“With more hotels opening in the UAE next year than in any other country in the Middle East and North Africa, as architects, we must look at sustainable options within the region to manage such growth, without irreparable damage to the local ecosystems,” Velegrinis said.

Resilient design, he added, can be hedonistic and luxurious, “as it must be for hospitality design.” Currently working on The Mount, a 10o-hectare hospitality project located in the hills above Muscat, Oman, Velegrinis offered what he considered to be key learnings.

“The resilience goals were as follows,” he said. “Make the site largely self-sufficient in utility infrastructure, through on-site energy generation and on-site waste water treatment; create a hydroelectric dam that prevents the regularly occurring flash flooding downstream, while generating energy; use the dams to store energy by using solar energy to power pumping and turbine systems; grow food locally using the model of the qanat, a vernacular irrigation and multiculture oasis system; and create diversified employment by establishing a mountaintop hospitality setting that expands Muscat’s tourism offerings.”

“We expect to see an increasing number of these types of requirements coming in over the course of the next decade,” he added. “Considering the waterfront developments that are coming to fruition at the moment… architects will be challenged to respond with complex levels of environmental intelligence applied to their conceptualisation and design.”