Port Blair, Andaman Islands

Port Blair, with its deep-blue water harbour, is at the centre of the Andaman Islands which lie to the south-west of Rangoon in the Bay of Bengal. Inhabited by a number of different tribes, many of whom have had little contact with the outside world, the Andamans are a world of primordial beauty, of whales and robber crabs, right out of the voyages of Charles Darwin.

The site for the hotel is on a hill overlooking the deep blue waters of Port Blair. The public areas form a series of decks, cascading down the hill, protected by the large overhang of the great roofs above (constructed of the local redwood, padauk).

This stepped pyramid, covered by a pitched roof, is a configuration with considerable advantages: it does not need any enclosing walls to keep out the sun and rain, but allows the prevailing breezes to flow through. From within, the large pyramidal wooden roofs over the public areas are asymmetrical about their longitudinal axis – so that the sloping roof surface facing the view is elongated (like the protective brim of a solar topee), deflecting one’s eye downwards to the blue waters of the bay. From a skylight at the apex of the pyramid, daylight descends gently down on to the decks below.