Leading green visionary architect Alexis Dornier shares his philosophy for sustainable design and creative expression in Bali. Having designed everything from towers to houseboats to temples, Dornier is also the man behind several buzzing design spots and bustling restaurants in Ubud, including Roam Ubud.
Dornier has a unique perspective on how traditional constructions and evolving social needs can merge together. His approach is almost scientific – he regards each design challenge as a puzzle, dismantling the pieces and rebuilding it with his own design narrative, inviting the viewer on a visual and experiential journey.
Exposure to the rigorous engineering methodologies of aviation in his home country of Germany from an early age helped form his particular style. Since starting his industrial design firm M AD LIMITED in 2008, he’s grown an international following and his sustainable buildings have popped up all over the globe. Dornier was appointed as head of design and construction of Roam Bali, the first co-living experiment in his creations. Guided by the phrase ‘All under one roof’, Dornier directly referenced traditional Balinese living, which houses the entire family in a large building resembling a compound. This synthesis of traditional family co-living fused with the needs of modern co-living with non-family members is a powerful one. The result is that openness is prioritized in common spaces to promote a sense of community, while private areas were designed with intimacy and relaxation in mind.
The vision of this place was to create urban community. A model of a micro society where people find their own space for privacy as well as places of gathering, exchange, movement and education
Here we examine Dornier’s design checklist of what creates a top-notch space in a jungle environment such as Bali.
In a tropical climate where you have excess of light and heat, playing with different opacities to filter the light allows you to manage the mood and ambience naturally. Materials such as bamboo, tin and polycarbonate, used in a way such as the tiled roof in Roam Bali, creates a graduated light play, cooling the environment but keeping the brightness and energy of the tropics.
“Plant life is a key image in the perception of why we love Bali so much, that is why it became the most important material to implement in the design,” Dornier says. Bringing the outside inside can be transformative for people that need to work indoors but crave exposure to their surrounding ecosystem.
Less is More
Sustainability 101: The less material you use, the better. Here Dornier employed this concept by revitalizing and renovating and existing building instead of knocking it down and starting over. The shell is up-cycled into a fresh new space.
Allow Space to Grow
We all know where we are today, but where will we be tomorrow? Planning ahead for spaces to evolve over time increases the lifespan of a structure. Roam’s building was designed for limitless growth, so that more common areas, green spaces or transit zones could be worked in over time.