In the course of time, architecture and tourism have been closely related activities. Universally, they both rely on each other. Tourism leads to overall development of the place. With the advent of modern architecture and usage of materials like concrete, the perspective towards building has also changed. Developing a tourist culture in an eco-sensitive place or where the modern facilities didn’t reach is a risky factor. Ecotourism is tourism developed on ecological surroundings of a particular place which has a unique ecology and has ability to attract tourists. So when it comes to ecotourism, architecture plays a wide role in its development as well as its working. For any place to generate tourism, architectural development is what one seeks apart from the attractions of the place. Context oriented architecture is mostly a byproduct of vernacular architecture. It is not always important that contextual architecture is vernacular. It depends on the surrounding of the place.
“Sustainability means need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”
Sustainability has been discussed over a period of years, especially when it comes to architecture. It is a subject way beyond. Architecture has always been a medium to elaborate art and culture of a space. Vernacular architecture is the best term which expresses “architecture based on surroundings”. The core of the idea of ecotourism lies in architecture as it has the power to express environment and culture through space. Ecotourism is supported by architecture as it amalgamates with surroundings and represents the local life with a user experience. It helps to generate awareness for existing resources, craftsmanship, culture of a particular place as well as works as a support to economy and identity of the space. Moreover, there are two broader terms which one needs to understand: contextual architecture and vernacular architecture. Vernacular architecture can be contextual architecture whereas contextual architecture need not to be vernacular architecture always. Contextual architecture responds to the immediate context of the site which is universal to all kinds of areas whether urban or rural. Whereas vernacular architecture responds to the site surroundings which mainly includes materials and climate. Since vernacular architecture responds to various areas of building it can be said to be sustainable. It forms from the surrounding and merges back to it with least possible harm. For eg, Bhunga houses of Kutch Desert, Gujarat, India which are vernacular as well as sustainable and as Kutch is famous for its White Desert among the tourists, the resorts and accommodations nearby are mostly Bhungas which gives a perfectly portrays the culture and architecture of the place as well as helps to maintain the ecology of the place by being vernacular and sustainable.
Reasons why architecture and eco-tourism are related
- Architecture expresses culture.
- Architecture helps to establish the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Construction style with respect to local craftsmanship, materials and climate.
Examples of Ecotourism
1. Save Farms, Dahanu, Maharashtra
Developed on the west coast of India, save farms is an ecotourist destination for people living in around 200 kms of radius. It is a great example of eco-tourism in terms that tourism can not only be able to sustain the ecology but also can help to enhance/generate the ecology of a place.
2. Boat Houses, Kerala
Kerala, is mostly known for its ecology and scenic beauty among tourists. It is a perfect example of eco-tourism as it is developed on the basis of boat houses, temple architecture and scenic beauties. The most famous among all these are the boat houses of Kerala which has enhanced the economy as well as also maintained the ecology of the backwaters of Alleppey, Alapuzzha etc.
Group of islands famous for beaches and ecology, Maldives is one of the finest examples of ecotourism on a global scale. The tourism industry has helped to revive the economy of Maldives.
Thus, these examples help us to understand that not only the ecology of the place but the architecture of the place also helps to attract tourists. Hence, if the built environment is not context based it may not seek the number of tourists and the tourism industry in the same manner.