Putu Edy Semara: Embracing the Land


Putu Edy Semara founded Esa International Architecture & Interior Design Consultant in 2005. Based in Bali, the firm collaborates with international designers to create some of the island’s most popular five-star resorts. In 2012, he won the International Property Award as the local architect with Giacommo Passera and in 2022 his design for Sudamala Resort, Komodo won an IAI Bali Award.

What was the brief from the client?

Initially it was a very common brief from the client, such as expectations on room numbers and supporting facilities. The owner wanted to keep the existing buildings, which were the restaurant and the arrival area. He took over an existing small hotel. These requests basically become one of the anchors on how the rest of the building will be placed.

How much did you translate it into your design?

Labuan Bajo, used to be a small fishing village, turned into the capital of West Manggarai Regency of Flores island. The name itself is because the area used to be a stopover for the Bajo tribe, well known as marine travelers from Sulawesi region. They finally settled, were well received by the local tribes, even assimilated until now. From the historical background and brief from client, I processed into a design concept.

How did you create a sense of place and space and connect indoor and outdoor?

As always, we try to be sensitive to what the land has to offer. In this project, the existing building and the mature trees guided us to insert the additional buildings carefully, creating open space in between. Preserving the native trees, which take a very long time to grow and develop is part of our responsibility to the nature.

How about other facilities such as lobby, restaurant, function rooms and spa? How close are these as part of the main concept?

All very much as expected, we are not looking to go over-the-top. We are fully aware that guest will spend half their time exploring island or the sea. This is why our facility is very intimate in size. Considering also we are a boutique-hotel, more like a big home than a hotel.

What makes Sudamala Komodo’s design special compared to your other hotel projects?

All of our projects are special for sure, particularly Sudamala Komodo. And my biggest smile comes from our decision to present it as a perfect hotel concept for Labuan Bajo. Whilst others are racing to build the biggest building-block to dominate the skyline and steal the ocean view. We go another direction, humbly embracing the land, keeping the scale low. The presence of Sudamala beautifies the land with quality architecture and enhancing the landscape, what could be better than that?!

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Rosiany T. Chandra
Graduated as an architect from the Technische Universitaet Berlin in 1987, the Bandung based contributor is passionate about art, history and culture; and loves writing about the subjects. She had previously worked as the Corporate Marketing Communication for a hotel and restaurant group in Jakarta, before moving back to Bandung in 2016. As she is a people person, she enjoys meeting people. In her spare time, she practices ballroom dancing as both hobby and sport.