Lake Calima in Colombia is one of the country’s principal aquatics centers, thanks in particular to its mountains, tourists, and jungles. For this reason, an international competition was held for the new “Calima Lake Resort” eco-tourism complex. SMA was invited to present an architectural proposal to include a combination of hotel, eco-villas, lodge, glamping, amenities, watersports center, and conference center.
The magnificent surroundings, with their singular topography, formed the basis around which the layout of the proposal revolved, in order to ensure that it was fully adapted to its context, in a balance between the natural and the man-made.
Rain-fed streams, canyons, and hollows criss-cross the site, and these topographical features were taken into account for the volumetric study for the Master Plan, resulting in an architecture with an organic feel. In this way, the proposed volumetry respects the mountain and is laid down across three existing platforms that permit a subtle integration.
Each of these platforms is separated by a height of around 8 meters, which serves to link up the entire program: the roof of one volume becomes the ground floor level of the platform above it and so on, forming terraces. This formal decision also enhanced the open views towards Lake Calima.
The main entrance was placed at the highest point of the site in order to distribute the various circulations and uses for the complex. To the East is the Water Park, which avails of the topography to incorporate slides and pools. The four accommodation areas are spread from East to Wests and comprise the lodge (34 rooms), the glamping area (8 modules), the hotel (128 rooms) and the eco-villas (40 villas).
The hotel was designed with a flexible, rhythmic layout, which allows for three different room configurations. Between each module of rooms, there are pauses with outdoor spaces, which act as meeting and relaxation points. The different configurations accommodate variously 4 to 5 guests, 8 to 9 guests, or 12 to 14 guests.
Finally, a lakeside promenade serves to provide space for the cultural and sporting amenities, together with beautiful pathways that allow close proximity between users and the natural surroundings.
The landscape design is based on protecting and encouraging the endemic vegetation and avoids introducing new species. The existing water bodies were extended to incorporate them into the volumetry and walkways.
Sustainable design is an issue of great importance in the architectural proposal. Passive strategies were incorporated, with the buildings’ orientation designed with solar gain in mind, to avoid the use of air conditioning. The materials used are natural, locally sourced and low-maintenance. Cross-ventilation systems, green roofs, and local labor were all employed. The building techniques reinterpret vernacular architecture and the construction systems used in the Cauca Valley region.
This proposal aims to have a positive impact on the local community in social, economic, ecological, and touristic terms.