Zuri Zanzibar

Sustainable off-grid luxury

This sustainable off-grid hotel and resort offers a sanctuary of barefoot luxury that responds to the local climate, context and culture of Zanzibar. Designed as a self-contained village, the resort offers 55 individual cabanas and five larger villas, together with restaurants, bars, yoga, meditation spaces and massage cabanas. The project blends global design flair with local materials, expertise and craftsmanship. Reflecting its commitment to sustainability, Zuri Zanzibar is the first hotel in the world to be awarded EarthCheck’s prestigious Design Gold Certification.

“Zuri has a highly curated, sleek-style pedigree that respects local context.”

The Telegraph



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Zuri Zanzibar
Project info
  • Location Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Client White Sands Beach Resort Limited
  • Year 2019
  • Status Built

Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is an archipelago of stunning but fragile ecosystems. In responding to this context, and given the limited infrastructure on the island of Unguja, our design for the Zuri hotel and resort takes a light-touch approach that centres sustainability while offering sumptuous modern luxury and comfort.

Cabanas are set in small village-like clusters close to the the private beach, nestled in a gently sloping landscape of sand, palm trees and timber walkways. Raised off the ground to avoid disturbing the ecosystem, these cabanas are naturally ventilated by the sea breeze.

Our design was inspired by Zanzibar’s architectural and craft heritage, incorporating locally available materials to create details including intricately carved ornamented timber doors and balconies, traditional coconut thatch and palm thatch roofs, and coral stone structures.

The interiors feature locally made and curated art complemented by decorative features, including partitions made from paper beads and light fittings made from recycled glass bottles, both crafted by local women. The resort’s three restaurants feature decorative baskets made by local fishermen.

Outside, a lush spice garden brimming with an array of fragrant indigenous plants offers relaxation pods ideal for meditation and yoga. Traditional Swahili cooking classes using spices grown in the garden are held in the Spice Garden House.

We took a robustly eco-conscious approach to the construction process. As well as sourcing local materials to minimise transport emissions, we reused extracted soil for decorative walls, garden terrace supports, and walkways. We also repurposed timber planks as decorative elements in the reception and used steel offcuts to serve as decorative cladding, hooks and shelves in the resort beach bar and beach shop. Rainwater is harvested across the five-hectare resort, and two wells were built on site to pump salty water into a desalination plant, supplying clean, fresh water to the whole hotel.

The project also brought forward meaningful community projects, including the provision of wells around the village of Kendwa for local residents, the renovation of a local school, and a hospitality training centre, providing employment opportunities for local people and sustaining traditional methods of construction such as palm thatch.