Integrated Architecture and Client Experience


Continuing on with our series of entries on the “experience” of our client, and how design plays an important and direct role in it, we would like to conclude this series with a fourth entry: the importance of integrated architecture that is enhanced by its surroundings.

Although for many years, the construction of buildings has been done regardless of their surroundings, it has now become evident that, in order to understand true architecture and therefore humanising the environment by making it habitable for people, thinking about where to place a building and all things close or around it, is extremely important. In today’s architecture, it is the architect’s and project developer’s responsibility to conserve and make use of the resources offered by nature, from landscapes to environmental conditions, as a starting point to give shape to their work.


The Foundations of Good Architecture

Given the high component of aesthetics in the design world, we can understand that it is highly subjective, however, in the case of architecture, there are a few points that can give us clues as to whether a building is on the right track, for example, if it is designed in relation to the functionality or activity that will be carried out inside it, something that we have touched upon in the last three posts. The “container” and its contents must be a whole.

Moreover, we would like to emphasise the importance of projects being built to scale; the building should be modest enough to take up the size and shape required, and no more.  Moreover, we should take into consideration what surrounds the building and the way the building or project communicates or “talks” with its environment and topography.  All these factors should be addressed in a respectful manner.



Iconic Projects.  Hit or Miss?

In regards to the concept of scale and dialogue, we would like to take as a reference the historian William Curtis, author of the book “Modern architecture since 1900,” a critical name within the design field. Curtis has criticised the arrogance of certain projects, which have only been concerned about design with extravagant budgets, but have forgotten about the place in which they are located, and end up standing as simple icons. Often, these buildings destroy the landscape, they do not work for what they have been designed for, and they have fancy shapes, designed simply to attract attention. These cases stress the need to review the figure of a responsible architect, one that allows the building or project to serve its surroundings too.

Curtis has also argued for the important role surroundings play in the art of shaping a city, where in certain cases, ignorant politicians under the false understanding that they could revive certain areas simply through iconic designs, built iconic projects, operating alone, without taking into consideration anything else. These bad decisions have proved expensive to the communities and surrounding environments.


Niemeyer Cultural Centre, Aviles, one of the examples that Williams accused of being irresponsible with their environment.


Design Trail.  Environment

Signed by one of the important names in contemporary architecture, Frenchman Jean Nouvel, Porto-Senso is an example of respectful and dialogue architecture with the surrounding environment. A project that not only blends into the environment, the opposite of the usual imposing building on the coast of Alicante, but also uses the environment to create its entire design, from the urban development plans right to the last detail in housing.

The French architect claims that a project has a sustainable architecture, when the design, both general and specific, reflects the intention to not upset nature’s balance. Thus, both the exteriors and interiors of each building, use the environment to develop their design entirely. Every decision of the design is based on, and takes into account, every inch it occupies.


Porto-Senso, Altea (Alicante), Jean Nouvel, an example of environmentally friendly architecture.


The Effectiveness of Simplicity

In the same way as in the above-mentioned project, where the environment has been vital in every design decision made, giving it its special personality, and fully differentiating it from the surrounding urban area, we can take this philosophy to other types of building constructions, including for example, those of spas and wellness facilities.

Additionally, if a project is in an environment with a strong personality, by giving the surroundings the importance they deserve, not only will it make it easier in terms of construction, but it will give our project that extra flavour, which can be extended to our concept, treatment and service offering, client experience, including other aspects of our business.


Details of the facade. The doors are created from a metal frame that supports a network of stone, which provides privacy inside, while letting light come in. Opened, the exterior forms part of the house.



Creating a good design project on a blank piece of paper is something reserved for those privileged few. A simple approach will allow us to see that the more determining factors you have in a design project, the easier its solution will be. Turning our backs on the things that surround us, not only is irresponsible but also unwise. If we take into consideration the clues that our environment offers us, we will already have a very high percentage of the design element resolved, but with an important extra – the authenticity of our concept, something that not all projects can show-off.

By Sonal

Sonal Uberoi creates and delivers smarter spas around the world. Spas and hotel groups hire Sonal to help them design, set up and manage their wellness businesses. Her finance background and worldwide operations experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality sectors make Sonal the go-to expert for business optimisation solutions. Connect with Sonal on LinkedIn

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