What makes the perfect escapist retreat?



For some, the impulse to retreat to nature seems to answer a profound, atavistic need to recognise they are part of the natural world. “We’ve distanced ourselves from nature and its wisdom,” says Eduardo Neira, known as Roth, founder of Azulik Uh May, an environmentalist complex of villas rising above the jungle on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico. The villas are uncompromisingly organic in shape, with curved concrete and fibreglass walls and trees growing through the floor. They’re linked by walkways made of indigenous, vine-like bejuco wood.

“When architectural structures follow the pattern of surrounding environment in a consistent, organic way, it helps people to reconnect with nature, which we humans are a part of,” says Roth. The project chimes with the current trend for biophilic design, which incorporates nature – through water, trees, plants, light and natural ventilation – into architecture, in the interests of environmentalism, biodiversity and wellness.

Biophilia is also influencing escapist homes. A desire to connect with nature was the main inspiration behind a holiday home in Ibiza, with new interiors designed by architect and designer Natalia Miyar. “My clients, a London couple, bought a contemporary house in countryside facing the sea as a luxurious retreat from their busy lives,” she says. “Our brief was to create a stylish, modern villa filled with warmth, anchored by organic shapes and colours in tune with the Balearic setting. We softened the building’s modern architecture, using a palette of texture and pattern that combined warm hues with accents of vibrant turquoise that references the sea. Wherever possible, we chose natural materials and finishes – tumbled stone, rough edging and cane furniture – over ones with sharp, clean lines to achieve a rustic feel that connects the house with the outdoors. This has a calming effect.” The house has retractable, floor-to-ceiling windows designed to connect a terrace seamlessly with the living room. “Everything we chose helps bring the natural, exterior palette indoors,” adds Miyar.



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