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Chair of Architecture and Urban Design
Asst. Prof. Dr. Alex Lehnerer



Can Paradise and the City co-exist? The Resort as Critical Lens

April 22, 2015

Paper presented by Adrianne Joergensen
American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, Chicago, IL

Abstract: The tropical resort depends on its ability to synthetically produce an ideal paradise for the tourist. While multi-disciplinary literature discusses the impact of tourism on tropical destinations, it only references aspects of the built environment. Through a choreographed set of architectural techniques, the resort emphasizes the favorable characteristics of its natural surroundings, while insulating the tourist from any unsightly elements. Easily achieved in remote tropical settings, the resort’s efforts to maintain an aesthetically ideal paradise are more challenged by an urbanized context.

This paper focuses on resort spaces in the Riau Archipelago—a group of islands surrounding the city-state of Singapore and the Singapore Strait—as examples of tropical idylls resisting the effects of an urbanized region. An outcome of Singapore’s regional ‘borrowed attractiveness’ agenda, the Riau resort reconstructs paradise geography as a respite to Singapore’s hectic urban life. Using Singapore’s air and sea channels, the resort offers locals and international tourists a convenient getaway. And yet, its proximity to one of the world’s most industrialized waterways threatens to undermine its paradise illusion. As a typology that balances urban conveniences with a natural image, the Riau resort presents a critical lens for re-examining the conflicting desires of tourism and industry within urbanized tropical regions.