Miles Humphreys: Designed for Functionality

Photography By Hamish Humphreys

PT Bali Anugrah Dewata architecture firm has an impressive portfolio of projects, primarily hotels and villas. However, coming on-board midway through the project is still no easy feat. Indonesia Design caught up with the principal architect, Miles Humphreys, on his vision for The Westin Resort & Spa Ubud.

Miles Humphreys

What was the brief given to you?
We were tasked to bring into line the previous design and construction. We carried out an extensive design audit of the existing structure and what was still pending. To our surprise, the owner agreed to our recommendations on what we thought would give the best result for the owner and operator. And we were asked to get started as soon as possible. It was a lot of relocating functions in the most optimum location while boosting functionality in other areas. The existing circulation was quite contorted, but eventually, we resolved and balanced it.

How did you approach the design for The Westin Ubud?
Given that the resort was 60 per cent built when we were brought on-board and audited the pending work, the design was mostly centred around creating an integrated resort on a very small site. Omitting some items and relocating others and repackaging the rest resulted in an alternative that yielded 120 keys instead of 109 from the original design without building additional structures. This was an excellent bonus for the owner and operator.

What is the most interesting aspect when designing this project?
It is how to resolve the numerous anomalies that existed in the original design, so as to present a resolved and functional design that placed the resort in a strong marketing position for guests.

How has the pandemic affected the process of designing this project?
The resort was up and running before the pandemic. Therefore, there was no opportunity to alter any of the design modifications. The only impact was on the operational side of it. As you can see, the seating at the F&B outlets is reduced to a third to achieve the necessary social distancing.

For the current hotels you are designing, what approach you do differently from other previous hotel projects?
They are still in “work in progress” with the owners and the operators looking to feel their way forward, as some issues will drive up both construction and operational costs.

How does the “new normal” affects architectural design for luxury and budget hotels?
Space and design will need to address the new concerns about safety and cleanliness. Health and wellbeing are the new drivers in attracting guests and, not just for hotels but the entire hospitality and entertainment sector. Cleanliness will need to be more visible as guest expectations will be different. So, well-designed safety measures such as shielding screens and hand sanitisers, particularly for higher-end hotels, are a must.

To help reduce crowding and queues in reception areas, hotels should allow guests to check-in online and download an electronic room key to their phone so that they can go straight to their room. Guests can use a phone app to control heating, cooling and lighting in rooms to reduce the need to touch switches.

To minimise crowd of visits to and from rooms, hotels need to have more in-room dining. Hotel restaurants need to accommodate at-seat service rather than a buffet-style food offer. Communal areas should allow space for social distancing and places that can introduce discreetness.

All in all, this COVID-19 period is accelerating changes that were already starting to happen. This is an excellent opportunity for both hotel design and construction to adapt, become more efficient, flexible and resilient.

Read our story on The Westin Resort & Spa Ubud here.

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Shaza Dzulkifly
A Malaysian who now calls Indonesia her home. Shaza's career has taken her across multiple communications channels such as radio, TV, print, digital and social as well as PR and advertising.
Hamish Humphreys