An Extraordinary Paradise
The island of Mauritius is a tropical paradise known for its deep blue waters and sandy white beaches. Along the west coast of Mauritius, a lighthouse lights the way to Albion, a perfect blend of 21st Century living and semi-remote tranquility. Its lush landscapes are interwoven into contemporary structures like the Albion Club Med La Plantation and a Monolithic Dome paradise—Les Dômes d’Albion (The Domes of Albion).
The Domes of Albion consist of 20 villas nestled on five acres of land which overlook the village of Albion. The villas, which boast state-of-the-art architecture with their graceful concrete curves, “open living” and community wellness center, have stunning views of the sea. According to The Mauricien, REAL ESTATE REPORT: The Domes of Albion, an innovative concept, this is the first residential complex of its kind in Mauritius and the Indian Ocean.
Located 600 meters from the main road, the villas are insulated from the noise of traffic. “We have a 360 degree view. On one hand we see the sunset on the west coast, and on the other hand, the mountain with its greenery. It is a very quiet and relaxing place, especially in the afternoons.” says Bernard Mongelard, developer of the Domes of Albion in The Mauricien.
Each villa sits on an 800 square-meter plot of landscaped land, complete with gardens of tropical greenery, colorful shrubs and flowers. Residents may also relax in their own curvaceous, blue shotcrete swimming pools surrounded by banana and coconut trees. The pools were built by Pleasure Pools Contracting, designed to harmonize with the arc of the villa and the lush scenery.
In the article, An all round cocoon, in La Case, Nathalie Fanchin mentions the villa’s huge porch, which could easily host an evening with friends. “But what catches the eye is definitely the sort of welcoming harmonious roundness of the sort of half-shell,” Fanchin says.
Not only do the residents of the Domes of Albion enjoy their Shangri-la type setting, but they feel secure. The villas are surrounded by 2.2 meter-high walls and accessed through an automatic gate. Historically accurate pavers, preserving the natural history of the area, were used to pave the private entrances which lead to wide carports outside of each villa. Additionally, each villa has its own power supply.
Natalie Fanchin claims in La Case, that the adjective brought to mind when a person sees the Domes of Albion for the first time is “Extraordinary.” She says the curves of the domes contrast sharply with the linearity of the neighboring structures. “Bluntly,” she says, “it brings to mind the image of a white igloo placed on an area of snow, or one of those spaceships found in Steven Spielberg’s or George Lucas’ fantasy epics. The exception is that here, you are in the heart of Albion, near the lagoon, and instead of a polar landscape or sci-fi scenery, the surroundings are tropical and exotic.”
A Mauritian and Monolithic Collaboration
Although the shape of Domes of Albion may seem to be unusual for villas, the domed housing shape dates back several years, points out Franchin in La Case. She says, “Indeed, inspired by an American concept, this type of house was popularized by American architect Buckminster Fuller, who in the 60s, thanks to his creative genius, managed to install the geodesic dome in the collective imagination of people everywhere.”
Trained in Monolithic dome construction in 2002 at the Monolithic Dome Institute in Italy, Texas, the villa was constructed by Mauritian, Mongelard Bernard, and his partner, Jean-Philippe Brusselmans, of Eco-Dome Construction Ltd. “We wanted to optimize space, light and ventilation in the villas, which was possible with the domed shape,” says Mongelard in The Mauricien.
Brusselmans says that the project evolved rapidly. “We started construction in late March. Six months later, we completed a model villa, four domes and eight foundations. By late 2013, the project was completed.”
Meemah Aumeer-Daharee, of Le DEFIMEDIA Group, in the article, Real Estate – The Domes D’Albion in RES but accessible Mauritians, says each villa has a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, 3 or 4 bedrooms, bathrooms, a large conservatory and a utility room. “The master bedroom is located on the ground floor and provides access to the terrace and pool directly,” Aumeer-Daharee quotes Bernard Mongelard.
Upon entry, a magnificent view is seen through the west-facing picture and dormer windows in the open living room. In the evenings, the vista is even more spectacular as the sun sets.
In La Case, Fanchin calls the living room “friendly,” with its dark wood furniture and wicker with soft orange cushions. The openness experienced downstairs almost makes one forget they are in a dome, says Fanchin, also noting the skylight in the center of the room flooding the circular space with sunshine during the day.
The spacious living room leads to a contemporary kitchen equipped with state-of-the-art appliances. “Open, in true American style, it is convenient and welcoming with its own bar area and stylized stools,” says Fanchin.
Also located on the ground floor is the master bedroom and en suite bathroom. Dark wood and sophisticated lighting give this room the feeling of elegant simplicity, according to Fanchin. A custom shower built to fit the graceful curve of the dome wall is featured in the bathroom.
A corner staircase with fine, wrought iron railing gives access to the open mezzanine, sun terrace and two bedrooms upstairs. Both interior levels of the Domes of Albion are lush living at its finest. Watch the video below for a virtual tour and see for yourself.
Green, Sustainable Luxury Housing
According to The Mauricien in the REAL ESTATE REPORT: The Domes of Albion, an innovative concept, the Domes of Albion embrace the concept of sustainable development.
Solar energy is utilized in the domes. “The architecture allows maximum use of natural light. A skylight dome top was built for this purpose and also allows natural ventilation and the evacuation of hot air,” The Mauricien explains. Each villa is also equipped with a solar water heater.
Bernard Mongelard explains that the dome shape makes a more solid house: “If it is subjected to an external shock, the shock is distributed throughout the house and not on a point of interest that could weaken the structure. Like an egg, if you press at even strength on both ends, it will never break, and in the case of a dome that is similar.” This makes the domes more hurricane resistant, anti-seismic and able to withstand the elements.
Nathalie Fanchin states in the article, An all round cocoon, in La Case, that harmony of form, lack of enclaves, living close to nature, short construction time-frames and lower costs of construction are some of the multiple benefits of building Monolithic domes. “A residential dome can cost 30-40% less than a traditional home and it can be delivered in three to four months. The value of dome-homes is that the covers are also the roof,” emphasizes Bernard Mongelard in La Case.
“The domes’ overall design allows the space to act as a living organism, reacting with the immediate environment,” says Fanchin.