Unveiling Mahabalipuram’s best kept secret–Anora, a tranquil beach resort designed by WeBe Design Lab

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Project credits:
Project Name:  Anora Beach Resort
Location:  Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Architects:  WeBe Design Lab
Design Team:  Udhayarajan and Sathish Vasanth Kumar
Structural consultants:  Bhavani foundation & Designarchtype
M.E.P. consultant:  Sumanam
Photography:  Sreenag Pictures

Surrounded by the towering palm trees, and perfectly nestled amidst lush greenery, Anora Beach Resort exudes immense warmth and hospitality through its architecture which is a result of conscious and informed design strategies by WeBe Design Lab. Situated along the picturesque Eastern Coastal Road, between Chennai and Puducherry, the beach resort mainly caters to a corporate clientele for hosting events and at the same time, the venue also presents a calm and tranquil atmosphere for a relaxed weekend getaway.

The design process adopted by the architects is broadly classified into a four stage process-
The first stage included obtaining the requirements for the project, in addition to collecting and analysing data pertaining to the site and the context. The information collected in the first stage was further used to determine the spatial zoning and conceptualization in the second stage. In the third stage, several iterations were explored through massing studies to develop a form for the resort which would be in conjunction to the site conditions and requirements. Detailing of the final design was implemented in the fourth stage, followed by preparation of a comprehensive working drawing set to enable the precise transition of a two-dimensional concept into a three dimensional space.

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The brief provided by the client included 24 suites, a leisure pool, a conference room and a restaurant. The next step was to numerically quantify these spaces facilitating volumetric studies and analysis. The linear block collectively represented the different spaces with corresponding area and volume. The mass was interpreted as a radial block. Though the site has a coastal location, it offered no physical or visual connectivity to the sea. The onus was on the architects to recreate the experience of a beach on site to boost the environmental quality of the site. This experience was achieved by creating private decks for each of the suites overlooking the central expanse of water, thus echoing the experience of viewing the sea from the beached catamarans.

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The 24 suites are arranged in 6 blocks around the water body, the largest block towards the entrance houses the reception and administration facilities. The leisure pool being a part of the main reception block, enables effective grouping of the functions which results in efficient management of the building services.

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The uniqueness in the design of the suites can be experienced through the light and fluid spaces which are weaved together with a harmonic transition. The luxury factor of the suites is pushed up several notches as the suites are well-equipped with a private plunge pool, or a jacuzzi or an open-to-sky bathroom. The design of the suites is such that it imbibes the experiential qualities of calm and cozy.

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The architects experimented with the material palette for this particular project resulting in the use of locally available stone in the form of random rubble masonry which not only increased the aesthetic appeal of the structures but also enabled passive cooling of the spaces within due to the thermal mass of the stone.

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The design of the Anora Beach resort skillfully captures the essence of the coast. Carefully tucked in the midst of towering palm trees, this calm and pristine resort qualifies as the perfect weekend getaway. The team at WeBe Design Lab strongly believe that “As architects, we get to meet and collaborate with people from very diverse backgrounds and from all walks of life! It certainly improves people skills. It widens our outlook and perception of life and design. It also places us in this enviable position where there is constant knowledge sharing within the field and also amongst the allied fields.”

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– Bhakti Loonawat ,Volume Zero.

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