Six Senses Con Dao Resort and Spa in Vietnam designed by the based in Paris firm of architecture, masterplanning and interiors AW².
The Six Senses Con Dao site is an amazing setting and certainly one of the most beautiful places on Con Dao Island. The beach, a one kilometre long strip of white sand with its dunes and turquoise sea, is surrounded by dark rocks, most prominent of which the Elephant Head Mountain, gliding into the sea, making it a most dramatic setting.
At the back of the site, the experience is completely different. Behind the sand dunes a river runs along close and shaded lush tropical vegetation, a mangrove, like an oasis between white sand and dark forest.
These natural settings give an extraordinary sense of nature a feeling of remoteness, of a secluded and private site, unique with its preserved natural landscape. It is a place to escape, to relax and to live close to the natural elements.
Our main concern at the start of the project was how to deal with these wonderful pre-existing conditions without destroying the essence of the site and give a real identity to the resort?
This implied that ecology and sustainability issues were foremost in our design inception: for the guests resort experience we had to preserve this feel of nature and for us, the architects, we had to commit to respect the site with an appropriate design. This meant that our design would imply for us to be very sensitive about every environmental aspect of the project: impact on site and nature, water, energy…
The concept of the Six Senses Con Dao is to enhance the natural local setting with its main features, to design all buildings and circulations in term of scale and texture to fit within the existing environment and to provide beautiful views and a permanent discovery of the landscape.
We want the resort to achieve a feel of luxury at ‘the end of the world’, where both exclusivity and environment are joined into one unforgettable guest experience.
The main arrival is located at high level and over the river. It takes you into a series of timber frame buildings organised in three public areas: the market area, the restaurant area, the swimming pool and its bar organised on terraces over the beach and the river leading to the main wooden bridge into the rolling sand dunes with the villas and to the mangrove spa.
Pedestrian bridges are linking all the areas with each other. Guests take the bridge above the river bed which flows down from the mountain to the sea, to go to the restaurant or to come back to their villa.
This is one of the major features of the resort, as it creates both a beautiful promenade and a stunning vantage point.
Arriving from the Welcome Sala (reception), the market area is the first public area of the resort; it is here that guests get their first the sense of the destination.The Market area is organised as a small village with a main street and its square.
On the right side against the falling rocks, small buildings (shops, offices…) are a reinterpretation of the traditional shape of the Vietnamese house with 2 pitches shingle roof, one building linked to another as we may find them in the village on countryside. The walls of the public buildings are clad in old Vietnamese doors. This is a clear statement made both environmentally in terms of re-use of discarded construction materials but also to give a sense of place. The end result is a stunning arrangement of buildings, which carry the mark of history of a vernacular Vietnamese architecture.
The slightly irregular alignment of small houses is creating the background of the resort in this area.