From designing a resort that included a zoo in Wuchuan (in southern China's Guangdong province), Bangkok-based hotel architect Bill Bensley responded with a concept that flips the idea – allowing animals to run free while humans in put in cage-like rooms.
With the concrete aim to free wildlife from captivity, Bill Bensley’s concept has recently reached a milestone, gaining approval from Southern China’s Communist Party to relocate abused animals from zoos in the country.
The first phase of the eight-year WorldWild project is slated to open in as early as 2023.
The 2,000-hectare piece of land where the property will be located will give animals the luxury of 95% of the land to roam about in, while humans will reside in just 5% of the grounds. The luxury concept will shelter 2,400 human cages with a budget of generally a million dollars per room - in brands such as Waldorf Astoria (Hilton) or Paul Bensley's own Shinta Mani collection.
To help make his vision a reality, the architect has hired James Morrison, a full-time zoologist. The reserve will feature individual Asia, Africa and Australia savannahs for animals to live in their natural habitats.
According to CNN, he has set himself a target of changing "10 million Chinese opinions a year" and this means the gates of the human zoo will be open to more than just high-end customers. With this in mind, WorldWild will have exhibitions on the illegal wildlife trade and experiences such as tree top walks through a monkey forest and an Indigenous Australian rock painting.
As someone who recently published a sustainability white paper for the hotel industry, the architect believes his background as a gardener and the son of British organic farmers means he looks at projects differently. He also believes "everyone has a part to play" in climate change and many of his suggestions are drawn from designing more than 200 luxury properties in more than 25 countries.