Boutique Design - May 2018 - 14
BY CHRISTINA GREEN
SODA Architecture | interiOrS
boutiquedesign.com may 2018
Luxury travelers have sky-high expectations for resorts.
They crave more than just a nice view; they want a literal
stellar experience. Stephen O'Dell, principal of Bangkokbased SODA Architecture | Interiors, channeled that idea
into Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas' latest venue: an
overwater observatory-cocktail bar hybrid dubbed SKY.
Elevated above a lagoon, the panoramic lounge's
circular layout plays up views of the Indian Ocean,
Kihavah Huravalhi Island, the on-site telescope and the
night sky. O'Dell says the geometry of the bar references
"the celestial heavens in spherical maps." That vision is
echoed overhead, where a lighting feature showcases
The goal was to capture the look of the night sky on
the bar's ceiling, a reflection of the stars that can be seen
from the rooftop lounge one floor above. "The celestial
map is comprised of thousands of fiber optic points,"
explains O'Dell. "Hilary Fontenelle, SODA's director of
engineering, installed the design by hand himself, drilling
each hole star by star."
Timber surfaces and white fabrics complement the
adjacent resort buildings, while low, concealed cove
lighting imbues a soft ambience without distracting from
the natural starlight. The bar and surrounding stools
combine warm, natural wood with a cool granite stone
countertop in a leather finish.
The spherical theme comes full circle on the upper-level
deck. That design balances an inner "celestial lounge" for
guests attending classes led by the property's resident astronomer with an outer ring of seating for those who wish to stargaze. The laid back feel continues on the lower-level deck,
where two sides are wrapped with deep, sofa-bed seating.
Isolating the research-grade telescope from the
elevated building's vibrations called for a separate structure entirely. So the design team proposed a domed
observatory that could be accessed by a bridge from the
upper level. That building incorporates as few columns as
possible and is clad in natural timber to tie in with the bar.
"Together, the observatory telescope and [custom-built]
dome structure form a highly technical instrument," says
O'Dell. "It was special ordered and arrived fully assembled."
Speaking of technical, while the project afforded O'Dell
the opportunity to bring some of his blue-sky concepts to
life, it also presented some what-ifs for the future. "I'm still
hoping the technology for a 3D holographic orrery star
map might be available soon," he says. "A map that could be
projected over the entire celestial lounge seating similar to
the ones you see in sci-fi movies-now that would be cool."
C O U R T E S Y O F A N A N TA R A K I H AVA H M A L D I V E S V I L L A S ( S K Y ) ;
C O U R T E S Y O F S O DA A R C H I T E C T U R E | I N T E R I O R S ( O ' D E L L )