Living mindfully comes easy when you visit a place like Miraval in northern Tuscon on 400 acres dotted with hundred year old Saguaro cacti. Miraval is a luxury spa and wellness retreat that is more than just about healing your mind and body - it's also working to protect the earth. Inhabitat favorites, Mithun, developed Miraval's master plan, renovated some of the older buildings and designed new buildings for wellness, meditation, yoga, outdoor treatments, and guest rooms. With rammed earth buildings, respect for the desert, mindful use of water and energy, Miraval is certainly a place for eco inspiration as well as for your soul.
Among the many projects that Mithun worked on for Miraval are the guestrooms, which make use of simple, natural and durable materials suited for the desert environment. The buildings are constructed of rammed earth, which serves as thermal mass keeping the interior cool during the day and emitting heat at night. Clay adobe bricks were made on site with local materials and used to build the outdoor showers, while branches from local saplings were used to screen in the mechanical areas. Decomposed granite paths meander throughout the resort and aid in drainage during the rainy season.
Facing south and the Catalina Mountains, the guest rooms take advantage of solar passive design and the views in one fell swoop. Large overhangs provide shade for the interiors and operable windows allow for natural ventilation. The roofs are coated with a high-albedo roof coating, which decreases solar energy absorption, and at the same time, solar hot water systems soak up the energy to provide hot water for guests.
The guest rooms also feature a number of other eco and energy efficient materials like low voltage lighting, high-content recycled concrete counter tops, high performance windows, and non toxic, low VOC paints. Landscaping surrounding the guest rooms, like the entire resort, makes use entirely of native plant species that do not require irrigation. Additionally, all the buildings were sited to protect the old growth Saguaro cacti, one of which is at least 120 years old.
Water is a precious resource at the resort and low flow fixtures and faucets minimize water use wherever possible. What rainwater that does occur at the resort is directed via rain chains into drainage paths to highlight the miracle of rain in the desert. The resort also has plans to build an on-site treatment plant that will reclaim waste water for landscape and irrigation use. Overall the resort and its facilities tries to highlight the close connection that we have to nature and Mithun worked to do the same in all of the elements they included in their design.