Architects Design a Senegalese Hotel Resort Built Around the Local Baobab Trees

La Reserve by SAOTA winds around a baobab tree

A proposal for a hotel resort in Dakar, Senegal, is taking inspiration from the local culture to elegantly integrate with the surrounding landscape of massive baobab trees. Called La Reserve, the design was created by architecture firm SAOTA and has just been named a finalist in the World Architecture Festival (WAF) 2021.

The hotel is designed to seamlessly blend into the surrounding landscape instead of trying to compete with the natural beauty of the area. Because of this, the architects designed a collection of smaller buildings that are organized in waves between the baobab trees. The largest of the trees can be found at the center of the hotel; it's a decision made to honor the custom of Senegalese people, where the biggest nearby baobab tree in a community becomes a place for gathering.

La Reserve by SAOTA winds around a baobab tree

“All the buildings share a common thread in that the same themes underpin them,” explains SAOTA director Phillippe Fouché. “that being an architecture that is very closely related to the site via the use of natural material. This creates an architecture that is rooted in place, that not only respects its surroundings but elevates it and promotes a closer connection to the landscape.”

The hotel is also related to the landscape thanks to the rammed earth walls and other natural material choices. These design decisions were informed by the vernacular architecture of Dakar—and Senegal as a whole. Typical huts and kraals (a collection of African huts protected by a fence) are used as inspiration for the hotel. Since much of the design was informed by traditional techniques, the hotel allows for the employment of local artisans for its construction. These traditional spatial arrangements are now used for welcoming visitors to the area.

La Reserve is a conceptual hotel designed by the architecture firm SAOTA.

Rendering of La Reserve by SAOTA

The buildings gracefully wrap around the iconic baobab trees of Senegal.

Rendering of La Reserve by SAOTA

Rendering of La Reserve by SAOTA

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by SAOTA.

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Samantha Pires

Sam Pires is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She is also a freelance architectural designer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NJIT and is currently earning a Master in Architecture II from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sam has design experience at multiple renowned architecture firms such as Gensler and Bjarke Ingels Group. She believes architecture should be more accessible to everyone and uses writing to tell unexpected stories about the built environment. You can connect with her online at
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