Katamama: Artisans At Work
Completed in 2015, Katamama sits elegantly behind the famous Potato Head Beach Club. Though its form does not immediately give away its function (it’s a hotel by the way), Katamama’s exterior makes sharp angles and blocky stacks look beautiful. While the Beach Club flaunts a curvy character, its neighbouring sleepy sister property stands firm behind, pointing its angular body towards the sea.
The principle architect, Andra Matin, is a leading Indonesian architect pushing the boundaries of contemporary architectural design through materials, unconventional forms and functions. Manypeople assume that designing in a modern or contemporary style means sacrificing traditions and cultural roots. This is not the case with Katamama as the red bricks you see fortifying the hotel is typically reserved for the use in Balinese temples.
The red bricks are slender and smooth with a certain range of tones that helps to add the right amount of variation to a mono-material facade. It may be hard to believe but, more than 1.5 million hand made bricks were used for Katamama’s construction. Apparently, this order single handily revived the economic wellbeing of a whole village in Tabanan, Bali.
Room configurations are interesting. Considering the levelling of the hotel, each level had to receive a different arrangement in terms of room plan. Ground floor rooms had no opportunity for a view, so of course, it became an “introverted” space. How do you design an introverted space? According to Andra Matin, the solution is to add a private garden, probably to induce a feeling of seclusion. The use of the red bricks within the room extends outwards into the garden, helping to blend the two spaces together (a neat design philosophy that is evident in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water project).
Other rooms also maintain this connection to the outside through the use of the red bricks but it is the Rooftop Suites that offer a few new spatial surprises. The slightly dimmer entrance corridor leads to the brightly lit open plan, “U” shaped room layout that seems to celebrate the central garden enclave and spiral Bangkirai staircase. The use of the floor to ceiling windows throughout the room not only fills the space with light but subtracts the visual barrier between the resident and exterior, whilst also reducing all unwanted noise pollution.
One drawback of this room is possibly its transparency. The dinning table for 6 encourages the resident to invite guests for a private dining experience but cast your gaze through the glass and garden space in the centre and you’ll be looking into the bathroom - probably a welcomed feature for any voyeur who visits. Nonetheless, having guests over is definitely part of the experience of staying at the rooftop suite since, hence the name, the rooftop is party ready. The connection between interior and exterior is not only horizontal but also vertical, one could say this is an unconventional movement for those staying at a hotel, but in this case, a befitting one.
Architecture is more than just sensationalist form making, that is why Andra Matin and PTT Family (the owners of The Katamama) decided to make the whole property hand crafted by their fellow countrymen. The interiors emulate the style of the 60’s and 70’s, fusing Indonesian craft with well known products from industry. Some furniture pieces are reproductions of one of the owners’ private collection featuring Kidney and side table and Teak frame sofa with handmade upholstery.
Of course, custom furniture is a given when it comes to designing a hotel but it’s the surprising juxtaposition of all these elements coming together in one room that is interesting and harmonious. There seems to be a recurring message that is ingrained in nearly all aspects of Katamama - remember nature.
Design wise, Katamama is a bold but fresh take on contemporary explorations. It is a project that attempts to broaden the radius to complement the immediate context, a radius so broad it nearly captures the entire island of Bali.
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