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How a Holistic Approach to Landscape Architecture Prevents Rainforest Damage

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Article by Paula Uzarek We review a holistic approach to Landscape Architecture in The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, by Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd, in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia Think of limestone hills climbing vertically above geothermal hot springs, fused with a pristine, verdant rainforest and natural caves. What connotations appear in your mind? I see a sanctuary, a relaxing environment where I can escape from the external world, perfect for looking for balance and peace within myself. If I turn my thoughts to landscape architecture design, I see the use of natural materials and tropical plants. This space is not imaginary: It is the exact location and general idea of the Banjaran Hotspring Retreat, a great example of design blending in with the environment.

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Holistic Approach to Landscape Architecture | The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Will you have to fight your way through the rainforest to get there? No way! The distance from Ipoh, Malaysia’s third-largest city, is just a 15-minute drive. And if the travel to Malaysia is beyond your reach, just keep reading to take a lesson from this Asian landscape architecture treasure hidden in the heart of a tropical jungle, not far from the Ulu Kinta Recreational Forest. Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd Preserve the Natural Heritage When talking about the tropical rainforest and geothermal hot springs, as a landscape architect you probably ask yourself how much incursion is too much? This is nature untouched by human hand. How does one design something that is under control here?

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Masterplan of the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Image courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd — a leader of Malaysia’s environmental planning – has the answers. Their aim is to preserve the natural heritage. Their green landscape architecture design within the Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat successfully incorporates the natural elements into a wellness center. According to the company’s vision, the landscape architect needs to understand not only the topography of a place, but also “the surroundings, natural resources, its potentials”. Sensitivity compliments these features and allows recognition of “the perpetuation of the natural heritage and identity”.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Image courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Image courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Holistic Resort Shows a Holistic Design The resort’s approach to energy efficiency includes detailed planning, design, and environmental friendliness and sustainability for all the elements you can think of. The design process puts nature in line with social well-being, not below economic value. Taking advantage of the existing topography and incorporating existing landscape, caves, vegetation, and water into the design, the resulting site provides a strategically located complex with therapeutic values.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

It is worth mentioning that the air flow is continuous, thanks to the buildings’ distribution. Natural ventilation and a minimizing of solar heat, together with the water elements, are planned in a similar, thorough way. Harvested rainwater is used for landscape setting, and the measuring tools equip all places that have a potentially high water usage.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Healing With the Power of Nature The features of the Banjaran include harnessing the natural power of the hot springs and its minerals. A bath in geothermally heated water is said to relieve stress. A steam cave contains geothermal hot spring water, serving as a natural sauna without consuming energy. Next to the hot water, there is also a toughening ice bath, a meditation cave absent from external sounds, a crystal cave influencing metaphysical healing by its amethyst and quartz crystals, and a fitness center for improving physical strength. There’s also a Garra Rufa fish pool, where spa patrons can rejuvenate the skin on their legs and feet.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Guests can also stroll the paths that wind among the buildings. Their curvilinear and regular forms correspond with gentle plants’ surroundings. Some are so narrow as to allow one person to pass, but most are designed for groups of people. The retreat’s villas include small gardens that are accompanied by water features. The gardens are architectural gems paralleling the ones found in the crystal cave. The water features take various forms. Some are dripping from the stone wall. In others, the natural hot spring water is directly pumped into Jacuzzis. All the planting and materials correspond with the other parts of the whole Banjaran design.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Natural Materials Above All Natural stone and wood create balanced areas where a state of relaxation is easy to access. The design is full of harmony, assisting guests in clearing their minds. Most of the materials are local, from palm leaf thatching in roof construction to recycled wood in interior design. Here, the material choice also shows ecological recognition and heat minimization.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Jungle-Reflecting Plants The greenery is chosen to appear as if we were in a jungle — but in a more controlled one. The leaves of tropical trees rustle above verdant shrubs and sharp grasses, creating a green canopy. They provide shade and amazing visual effects. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) and ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) emit marvelous scents and are natural mosquito repellents. Their long, thin leaves are complemented by other plants, such as Tropic Fleur Heliconia (Heliconia ‘Tropic Fleur’), whose orange flowers pop up with every single step. Purple Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali) is an example of water plants, with their floating leaves with crenellated edges accompanying stunning flowers that fill the water surface.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Next to these neatly designed plants, we can go through an informative herbal garden. Many of the herbs are commonly used by locals, who believe in their medical values. Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Opuntia cochenillifera (Nopalea cochenilifera), Big-sage (Lantana camara), Shield aralia (Polyscias scutellaria), and Bitter ginger (Zingiber zerumbet) are only a few examples. And among all these, well known Pomelo (Citrus maxima) offers the green variety.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Preservation of the natural environment and the designer’s approach toward the place merge the tropical jungle with a relaxing spa and wellness atmosphere. The designers used a wide range of plants and materials, and looked to nature’s healing potential for inspiration. Just by looking at the photographs, I want to take a deep breath of the fresh air. Are you already relaxed? Asian projects are more and more often mentioned in our articles on the Landscape Architects Network. To see another work of Malin Lip & Associates, you can read the article by Elisa A. M. Varetti: The Haven Lakeside Residences or 10 of The Best Tourist Spots for Landscape Architecture in Asia by Sophie Thiel. What do you think of the holistic development? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Photo courtesy of Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd

Full Project Credits For The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

Project Name: The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia Architects: Malik Lip & Associates Sdn Bhd Client: The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat Awards: Highly Recommended Landscape Architecture, International Property Awards 2012, Asia Pacific, Landscape Architecture Malaysia BCI Asia Top Ten, Green Design Award 2009 Honour Award, ILAM, Malaysia Landscape Architecture Awards For Excellent Landscape Design & Planning 2009 Recommended Reading:

Article by Paula Uzarek

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