Piter Gan on Weaving Design and Function


With almost 30 years in the industry, Piter Gan of his eponymous architecture firm enlightened us on how to balance between aesthetics, functionality and investment cost to ensure it's financially sound for all of his clients’ projects from mixed-use developments, shopping malls, apartments, to restaurants and hotels. The firm has designed a number of projects under Marriott brands, including Fairfield by Marriott Bali Kuta Sunset Road.

Piter Gan

What was the brief given to you?
To design a Fairfield hotel, an affordable establishment yet functions as a luxury hotel with a Balinese tropical atmosphere, to attract business and leisure travellers – All the while maintaining the brand’s DNA of simplicity, inviting, welcoming, and providing experience to the guests.

I was given a detailed facility programme for all the spaces needed with composition for the room types, a target of minimum room keys, and a guide to meeting all the design and safety standards of the Marriott brand.

How did you translate this into your design?
The peculiar T-shape of the land served as a starting point of the design process. We did a lot of analyses to fully utilise the land in order to balance room keys, open spaces and facilities requested by the brand.

As to achieve an efficient operation for the hotel as well as constructions, we used a more modular design in square shape. To please the eye, we designed a curved pool with a canopy around it. We oriented most of the rooms facing inward to the pool to create a tropical ambience.

We paid attention to overall building shapes and masses, also to the detailed interior design and materials used. With all the above points, the hotel did not only achieve efficiency, but also provide for guests to have the best experience.

What are the challenges and the exciting part of designing this property?
It is how to fulfil all the requirements given on a site that is not square in shape. To be able to provide an open space for the swimming pool area as the centre of the hotel that boasts a tropical atmosphere with the likes of a resort.

Another challenge is aligning Marriott’s “swim lane.” The term refers to differences in Marriott’s all brands. Each brand has its own uniqueness, including Fairfield. Our design was reviewed by Michael Wang, the senior continent head, Global Design Asia Pacific, Marriott International, and his team.

In Bali, there is a restriction not to construct a building above 15 metres. So, the other challenge was to manage the elevation. We raised the lobby to the second floor to make way for meeting rooms beneath. By doing so, we were able to give more open spaces as well as meeting the target of the number of guestrooms. We worked hand-in-hand with other consultants to achieve this.

What is your approach to designing hotels in general?
To deliver a good hotel design is to consider and achieve all-important required aspects. It starts with having an understanding of the briefs given by the owner and operator, then studying the land site: its dimensions and shape, as well as its surroundings.

No less important is the aesthetically pleasing appearance of interior design and architecture. This should complement efficiency, functionality and convenience for guests and staff. We also have to study the hotel brand’s DNA and its design standards. The land has to be utilised efficiently and each space has to be functional. This way, we can maximise the site, design-wise, and hotels’ owners can make the most of their investment.

Then we have to ensure the traffic flow of the services such as loading or delivery area, staff entrance and back-of-house do not conflict with guest circulations. All of these have to be placed efficiently because these combined layouts will impact the cost of investment and time consumed during operations.

Has the pandemic changed the design approach?
Designing hotels during this time definitely has its caveat. As architects, we now need to consider designs that improve natural air circulation and increase natural light to avoid dark and unused space. We also have to include more open-air areas for restaurants as well as the lounge concerning a safe distance between guests. I would suggest choosing easy to clean materials across the property as well.

Besides that, it is crucial to take into account staff mobility and safety, providing more space for them, like back-end area at the restaurants to serve guests in a protocol-compliance environment.

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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.