A Beach Resort | EcoRetreat


Posted on: December 1st, 2021

A Beach Resort | EcoRetreat

A beach resort that emulates luxury and comfort but not at the cost of inflicting damage to its natural setting.

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?


Coastal cities around the world are popular, concentrated centres 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 so as 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?


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 minimised to promote preservation. 

Design Objectives

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.


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 harbour 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 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%
Max FAR: 1
Setbacks (as per CAD plan)
Coordinates = 34°08’15.4″S 18°50’44.1″E

Program Outline

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 programme.

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

Requirements / Eligibility

  • The minimum eligible age for participation is 18 years.
  • The competitions are open worldwide for designers from any discipline.
  • You can participate as an individual or as a team of a maximum of 4 members.
  • All students and professionals can participate in the competitions.
  • For Students: A student is someone who is currently enrolled in a full-time graduate/undergraduate program at a university anywhere in the world on the date of registration. We will need proof of identity upon the result declaration. The proof of identity should clearly state that you were enrolled in the institution at the time of registration. You may also produce a bonafide/authorized certificate from the institution as proof of identity. Students are allowed to involve one mentor/professor/guide in their team provided the mentor has been authorized via a bonafide certificate of the University.
  • All the participants who do not belong to the student category will be considered professionals by default. Ph.D. candidates will also be considered professionals.
  • Institutional access is a program for students only if they are participating in the competition as a group of 20 people and want to submit 5-20 entries together. Institutional access has to be done under the guidance of a mentor/professor.
  • A team with even one professional will be considered as a professional entry.

Submission Requirements

  1. Recommended number of sheets/presentation images/boards:
    3 (Three)of size [2800px x 3500px] in portrait digital format (JPEG only).
  2. Minimum 3 (Three) & No maximum sheet limit. Each image should be less than 15MB. (Do not submit PNG format)
  3. Minimumrequisite submission are sheets/boards + Cover image containing:
    1. Site plan
    2. Key concept section x 1
    3. 3D views x 4
    4. Additional cover image of 2000px x 1000px
    5. Write an article/story in the Journal section#of the project (of about 700-1000 words) answering the questions given in the guide pdf you receive in the additional resources.

Additional Resources

This competition contains additional resources that contain a set of files useful to complete the competition submission. This folder is made available on your profile dashboard automatically as soon as you register.

This additional resource folder of this competition contains:

Submission Format files in PSD | AI | InDD,
Guide to Journal Section + Questions,
Site Images,
High-Resolution Site Map, and
CAD file of the Site plan.

Submission / Key Dates

Registration Deadline: 21 March 2022
Submission Deadline: 22 March 2022
Winner Announcement: 19 May 2022

Read More: Architecture Competitions | Hospitality Architecture | Cape Town | South Africa