The Coralarium by Jason deCaires Taylor opens at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi

The Coralarium by Jason deCaires Taylor has opened at Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort.

Touted as the first ever underwater art installation in the Maldives, the Sculpture Coralarium is situated in the centre of the largest developed coral lagoon in the Maldives. The artwork created by renowned environmental sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor is a semi-submerged tidal gallery space that exhibits a series of sculptural artworks on the skyline, inter-tidal waterline and seabed.

The work aims to create a direct pathway to the ocean. A long swimming pool transects the island and denotes the starting point. The art installation begins by following this line into the clear shallow waters of the sea where an underwater coral pavement begins. Sea-scaped with underwater poplar trees and endemic planted corals, it heads 100m through the shallows towards the underwater realm, a symbolic pathway to another world and the starting point of the artistic intervention.

After a 50m snorkel or swim, guests encounter a submerged staircase which leads up towards a semi submerged tidal building. The building is cube shaped, six metres tall, with its front façade submerged up to median tide of three metres. The design of the walls is based on natural coral structures and is porous to allow the tides, current and marine life to pass through it and the structure to “breathe” within its location.

The complex structural formation is designed to dissipate oceanic forces whilst creating a protective space that encourages nature to colonise and seek refuge. The construction, using high grade, polished, marine stainless steel aims to reflect and mirror the surrounding blues of the coral atoll and the sky above. A mirage on the horizon, that over time will take on the patina of the sea as it becomes colonised by algae and weathers within the environment. The roof of the building houses a series of black silhouetted Jesmonite sculptures that connect both the sky above and the sea below, occupying a space between worlds.

The entrance of the building is situated above water and leads into a dry elevated viewing platform. The square gallery space exhibits a further 14 sculptures on plinths at various heights within the water column, some works completely submerged, others high above the water line, with the majority mid water interacting with both the marine and terrestrial world depending on the tidal level. The roof is perforated with a coral pattern to allow beams of light to illuminate the individual works and a series of submerged lights to illuminate the space during the night.

The sculptures themselves are hybrid forms, part-human, part-plant, part-coral. The organic forms are based on endemic species of the island and its surrounding reefs; banyan trees, screw pines, strangler ivy, mushroom and staghorn corals. Many of the works feature root systems, symbolic of the dependence of humans on the natural environment a connection to place. White calcium coral, formed of bones ingrained into the surface of works, aims to show how the reef is part of the Maldivian DNA. Leaves on the base of the plinths will provide additional marine habitat space.

The underwater realm of the installation includes a series of children looking up towards the surface of the sea posing questions about the threat of climate change and sea levels rising and the consequences for future generations. Overall the installation aims to draw all the elements of life on earth together, to portray a system where all components are dependant on each other, humans and the environment in coexistence, a levelling of relationships. The Coralarium becomes a portal or interface to the wonders of the underwater world.

Access to the Coralarium is available through guided tours in small groups lead by the resort’s resident marine biologists several times a day.

Located on the Shaviyani atoll, the stunning new Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort offers 112 luxury villas, each with a private pool. Sirru Fen Fushi, which means ‘secret water island’ in the local Dhivehi language, is set on an exceptionally lush island bursting with flora and fauna. The picturesque locale is also surrounded by powder white sand beaches, peppered with thatched-roofed villas overlooking an endless turquoise sea.

The all-villa resort is ideal for couples or families, and features  a 200-metre infinity pool as well as luxury safari-style tented villas nestled in the island’s lush interior jungle.

Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is the sole hotel on the pristine atoll, and its previously untouched location has allowed marine life to flourish, with manta rays, turtles, large pods of bottlenose dolphins and spinner dolphins regular visitors in the crystal-clear waters of the 600-hectare lagoon. The nine-kilometre-long house reef, directly accessible from the beach, is home to vibrant corals and a thriving ecosystem teeming with life. Uniquely, a manta ray cleaning station at the house reef, offers guests a rare close and extended glimpse of one of the world’s most majestic marine creatures, many of which drop by in a beautiful display of aquatic symbiosis with smaller sea life.

The 112 villas are categorised based on the island’s stunning topography, and include Beach Villas, Water Villas, and Tented Jungle Villas. Copper bathroom fittings and carved wood detailing on furniture lend the villas a bohemian rustic chic vibe. Specially adapted to the Maldives, the unique tented jungle villas offer privacy and a romantic castaway vibe; other guests can also experience the verdant island interiors with glamping BBQs or jungle cinema.

A strong connection to nature guides guests throughout their stay, even at the resort’s contemporary dining outlets. These include an international all-day dining spot called Raha Market; an overwater Japanese restaurant, sushi bar and sea lounge named Kata, where Chef Dharmen brings creative flair to add modern and Maldivian twists to Japanese dishes; and the overwater fine dining destination, Azure, where fresh seafood and fish-market displays of daily local catches are complemented by fantastic wines and Champagnes.

It’s the same tranquil natural surroundings from which the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Maldives draws its energy and vitality. The 2,000 sqm wellness area has been adapted to Maldivian island chic in its concepts with the use of endemic herbs and Indian Ocean-inspired treatments. The architectural design features hand-carved wooden doors, with sea breeze passages designed to draw fresh sea air into the treatment rooms. A dedicated Olympic size Jacuzzi pool is provided for spa guests for pre or post treatment immersion.

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