For first time visitors, repeat guests, those that have made Bali their home, and the Balinese themselves, there is no denying the rapid changes that have taken place on the island in the past few years. What was once a romantic, cultural getaway with rice field and temple predominating has transformed into a thrusting metropolis, especially in the built-up southern areas. Bali's slow pace of life in the main tourist and residential centers anyway is a thing of the past.
As with all change, there are positives and negatives. Increased prosperity is certainly a plus point; traffic jams, pollution and unplanned development are sad reminders of the cost of "progress". Yet, amongst the mayhem, you can still find the rich landscape and culture that has beguiled visitors for centuries. It continues to draw outsiders many of whom are building extraordinary homes.
After a year of research, we've come to the conclusion that the Bali Brand is as strong as ever. Because the island is welcoming, the people some of the most beautiful on the planet, the climate salubrious, the economy buoyant-foreign investment continues, grows and multiplies. More and more outsiders—from Australia, other parts of Asia, Europe and even America are making Bali their home, and many more are investing in villas suitable for the holiday rental market.
For the most part, this book concentrates on homes, although there are one or two rentals as well. Almost all are newly built residences. We consider them the cream of the crop,representative of the exciting new architectural directions that Bali is witness to, yet by no means the norm.
We've left out the terraced villas, the cheekby jowl estates, the ribbon developments, the small condos; we're showcasing only extremely high-end, innovative properties. Some are in the countryside by the sea, in the hills, overlooking rice paddies but many are in built-up areas as is increasingly common. The homes may not have the picture postcard views of the past, in fact they're more than likely to be inward looking, but they are noteworthy nonetheless.
Each home has been chosen because of its excellent architecture, innovative design features, and cutting-edge interiors, but also because each is very different from the next. Variety is the key here; no cookie-cutter copies thank you very much. We want you to drool over their beauty in the same way we did, read about some of the new materials and methods used, maybe incorporate some of the ideas into your own homes. We're grateful to have been invited in, and I hope you'll find the houses as extraordinary as we have done.
Style, Substance and Sustainability
So what are the major changes in architecture and design in Bali? Firstly, an increased level of sophistication is increasingly sought and supplied. Craftsmanship has always been one of Bali's strengths, but it has more often than not remained in the estetic limbo.