Popo Danes, arguably one of Bali’s most well-known architects, gives us his two cents on Balinese architecture and design.

Theme - Nature (p.48-49)

“What the modern architecture is still trying to achieve today has been implemented in the traditional Balinese architecture for centuries now, where the concepts of energy conservation and environmental preservation are amongst the fundamental elements in every design.” – Popo Danes

From private homes and restaurants to starred hotels and luxury resorts, the renowned Balinese architect Nyoman Popo Danes is known for his exemplary designs that showcase a distinct flair of being in harmony with the local culture and nature. This green-conscientious architect always integrates eco-friendly aspects of Bali’s traditional architecture into his designs.

“While some architects are very focused on making their buildings look stunning from the outside, my main concern has always been the functionality of each aspect of the building. I always make sure that my designs are in harmony with their natural surroundings; that each room has a function; that a strong connection between the architecture, landscape, and interior is established. I don’t care if my architecture is not photogenic, as long as it serves its function well.”

As an international destination, Bali attracts people from all corners of the world with its uniqueness. Therefore, Popo believes that every building on the island needs to be able to help these people feel that they are in Bali. “When you travel, you want to be immersed in the local atmosphere. In Bali, a building should exude the feeling of locality so when you enter it, you know you’re not in Jakarta, Hong Kong, or anywhere else.”

The works of the two-time ASEAN Energy Award winner (in the category of Best Practice in Tropical Architecture) are known as some of the most striking in design, functionality, and environmental consciousness. Air conditioners take up the biggest energy consumption in a building, and Popo’s eco-friendly creations have the ability to ‘communicate’ with nature to lessen energy consumption through the overuse of air conditioners.

“I create buildings that have open pavilions (just like in typical Balinese buildings) to allow breeze to blow in, and I don’t put too many glass windows. Then again, air circulation or heat is not the only reason why air conditioners are overused. People also tend to turn their air conditioners on to escape from the noise pollution outside their buildings. When all windows and doors are shut, it’s quiet inside. This is where nature steps in. Towering trees can be a great noise filter, and they also serve as a fresh, cool air provider.”

From Indonesia to India and China to the Philippines, most of Popo’s architecture projects involve challenging landscapes. “It’s never easy. A lot of projects i’ve been doing so far (especially for luxury resorts) involve slanted soil, hilly surfaces and everything else not flat. Of course I can always take the easy job; for example in Bali, I get so many offers to design a building on a flat surface. The thing is, in order for me to build it, I have to get rid of a rice field. I will never build anything on a rice field. Rice field is a symbol of prosperity for the Balinese, and is home to the goddess of prosperity, Dewi Sri.”

Get in touch with Popo Danes via popo@popodanes.com.

NOW Bali Editorial Team

NOW Bali Editorial Team

This article has been written or uploaded by NOW! Bali's in-house editorial team.