Kudadoo: The most sustainable resort in the Maldives?

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(CNN) — Many architects would kill to be given a blank slate on which to create their dream project.

But when award-winning architect Yuji Yamazaki agreed to design the Kudadoo Maldives Private Island, which opened in 2018 and is made up of just 15 overwater residences, he found himself thinking about how his building could show off the island — and not the other way around.

His approach was to build in a way that highlights the island’s natural beauty while using up as few natural resources as possible.

“The real concept is, how we can showcase this existing beautiful nature, meaning pristine, white beach and crystal clear water,” Yamazaki explains. “Those are the elements that we wanted to preserve.”

First on the priority list: clean energy.

While solar power is becoming more common in the Maldives, Yamazaki didn’t like how so many hotels and resorts tried to hide the panels behind buildings as if they were something shameful or ugly.

Instead, he and his team designed their own panels and included them in the overall aesthetic of the resort. Today, Kudadoo remains the only fully solar-powered private island in the country.

“We decided to just design one large public building with the solar power roof,” Yamazaki says. “In terms of calculation of the power, that was enough scale footage to cover or supply the electricity throughout the island.”

An aerial view of the Kudadoo Resort.

An aerial view of the Kudadoo Resort.

Kudadoo Maldives Private Island

In addition to creating something beautiful and useful, Yamazaki had another goal in mind for his solar panels — education.

“When you go to Maldives, you typically arrive with sea plane or a boat, so the first impression of the resort is always a roof or building from far away,” he explains. “Instead of hiding it, we showed that we made it a main character of the island so that people (see it when they) arrive.”

That juxtaposition is exactly what Yamazaki wanted to achieve. Travelers to the Maldives may be coming for luxury and beautiful surroundings, but the architect hopes they will also leave with a sense of responsibility to care for the islands.

In his view, sustainability isn’t an add-on that you stash behind a building out of sight. Instead, it’s a beautiful design element placed in the most obvious position possible.

A sinking nation

The low-lying islands of the Maldives are at serious risk from climate change.

According to forecasts from NASA in coordination with the United States Geographical Survey, the entire country could be fully underwater by the year 2050.

He said: “Our islands are slowly being inundated by the sea, one by one. If we do not reverse this trend, the Maldives will cease to exist by the end of this century.”

One of Kudadoo's 15 villas.

One of Kudadoo’s 15 villas.

Kudadoo Maldives Private Island

Yamazaki also sounds the alarm.

“The concern is really becoming more visible and loud. Sea is rising much faster than scientists predicted. The people in Maldives are very concerned. We’ve been walking…

Read More: Kudadoo: The most sustainable resort in the Maldives?

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