Whitepod eco-luxury hotel, a series of pods and alpine chalets in Les Giettes in Valais, the project of Montalba Architects.

naval architect Jean-Michel Ducancelle is billed as the world’s first floating hotel suite. Fitted with five south-facing solar panels, the saucer-shaped invention harnesses the sun’s rays to power its electric motors and mechanical systems, making it a half-hotel half-boat hybrid.

16 1%

Sigge architects 50

The number of fl oating hotels Sigge architects is working on to complete for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Meanwhile, Finnish architectural firm Sigge architects is currently working to complete 16 floating hotels to serve tourists and fans that will be visiting Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022. Based in Qetaifan island in close proximity to Lusail International Stadium, the properties are billed as a sustainable solution to accommodate some of the 1.5 million tourists expected to attend the event. For Turkish architectural design studio Hayri Atak (HAADS), floating hotels might be the answer to a more sustainable form of energy generation in their own right. The group recently unveiled its plan to build a floating eco-hotel capable of powering its own electricity through a propeller like motion. Spanning over 35,000m2

, with a vast 700m2 lobby

Percentage of the hospitality industry’s greenhouse gas emission out of the global total.

UN World Tourism Organisation

area, the cylindrical structure aims to harness tidal energy by rotating 24 hours a day in a vortex-like pattern, utilising the water current and converting the energy into electricity. Solar panels situated on the roof provide additional power input, while the exterior collects rainwater for reuse, keeping on-site gardens irrigated rather than going to waste. While the group insist that “feasibility studies at the implementation stage are still in progress”, it plans to launch the first leg of the project in Qatar, setting a completion date of 2025. If successful, HAADS envisage the floating concept as a blueprint that can be developed in alternative locations. “[The] Eco Floating Hotel is not limited to being a project that is planned to take place only in Qatar,” says Kübra Turk, a spokeswoman for the group.

Along with Qatar, Middle Eastern states stand at the forefront of the green tourism revolution as they seek to diversify their assets and transition their economies away from black gold. Saudi Arabia is developing several major ecological tourism projects, including an outlandish Red Sea Project comprising an archipelago of 90 islands, mountains, sand dunes and dormant volcanoes. To ferry guests around a landmass that resembles roughly the size of Belgium, an entire transport network, including an airport, will be powered by renewable energy. Elsewhere in other countries hard hit by the financial depression caused by the pandemic, architects and developers will need to work hard to justify to investors why building more sustainable, energy-efficient hotels is not only good for the planet but for the bottom line. “I think the best thing we can do to push sustainability is to show clients the value and return on investment that it has, not only from a marketing perspective, but from an actual use perspective,” Montalba says. “Oftentimes, it just means a little more thoughtfulness and investment upfront.” Of course, as Montalba notes, while building grandstanding eco-resorts from scratch is a noble pursuit, often the most sustainable thing developers can do is reuse existing buildings.

“The most sustainable thing we can do is reuse buildings that exist and not build new buildings. As much as I like making new buildings, I don’t have such an ego that I feel like I need to make my mark everywhere,” Montalba says. “I’m more excited about finding opportunities for clients that are creative solutions through design. There needs to be more thought put into that and more appreciation for that. We live in a world where you can order something and it’ll be here in an hour. Everything’s just so instantaneous. It just shouldn’t be that way.” ●

Hotel Management International /

Montalba Architects

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