One of a Kind: How Timber Propels Infinite Maldives into Indian Ocean!

5 hectare development will connect 44 timber-based villas via an enormous timber walkway across the Indian Ocean

Mon 12 Feb 24


Pritzker Prize-winning studio Shigeru Ban Architects has produced plans for the Maldives latest mega-development, a 5-hectare site that will see 44 overwater and beachfront villas connect over the Indian Ocean via an enormous timber bridge.

Billed as Infinite Maldives, it will be developed at Male’ Atoll – a small atoll 645km off the coast of Sri Lanka – and will “embrace the Maldivian vernacular”, according to Shigeru Ban, who said the villas will combine timbers with recycled local materials to “blend seamlessly with the surrounding Indian Ocean.”

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The 5-hectare island and overwater development will host 44 overwater and beachfront villas – with uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean. (Image Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects)

Sri Lankan-based Crystal Property Group is bankrolling the enormous development and is the latest development in the island chain to embrace timber-based construction and is hot on the heels of the Fari Islands, which last year became the first development in Asia to achieve net-zero carbon-ready certification.

A champion of prefabricated construction systems, Mr Ban, said the villas will be constructed from engineered mass timber products and locally sourced materials – which would “minimise the amount of transport and energy for construction and material production.”

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Thousands of trees will be managed, with landscape architecture provided by Michel Desvigne. Inspired by the lush gardens of Sri Lanka, particularly the famed Lunuganga by Geoffrey Bawa, Desvigne’s designs blend sophistication and natural beauty. (Image Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects)

“What makes Infinite Maldives unique is that the resort blends in with the sea and the green nature in an ‘infinite’ manner,” Mr Ban said, adding that the  approach “focused on the landscape design first, ensuring a seamless connection between water, land, and vegetation, promoting continuity between indoor and outdoor spaces.”

According to Rexa Magdon Ismail, CEO of Crystal Property Group, the project is a “one-of-a-kind opportunity in the Maldives,” adding that it will “be the first resort residence” with overseas investors encouraged to buy into the development. 

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Infinite Maldives aims to incorporate Maldivian elements and sustainable practices, utilizing local materials and emphasizing biophilic design. Each villa incorporates private infinity pools and access to amenities such as a fitness centre, spa, and wellness facilities. (Image Credit: Shigeru Ban Architects)
Can Infinite Maldives draw on lessons from the Fari Islands?

As reported last year, Pontiac Land Private Limited – the developers behind the Ritz Carlton and the Patina Maldives, actively worked with the Maldives government to import thousands of cubic metres of PEFC-certified timbers for the mega project.

Working with Double Helix – world leaders in DNA tracking and testing, it spearheaded the establishment of the first national timber tracking system, now used by the Maldivian government to prevent illegal logging and promote sustainable forest practice.

The push to embrace sustainable building materials and legacy infrastructure comes amid heightened scrutiny on the environmental toll on the islands – footage courtesy of @dwnews.

According to Marco den Ouden, General Manager of Patina Maldives, the due diligence was “important to ensure that the timber we used was not only sustainably sourced but also helped support the local communities in the Maldives.”

This process led to the Fari Islands reducing carbon emissions by over 6,000 tonnes, both in embodied and operational carbon, resulting in the island now being recognised as one of the most eco-tourist destinations on earth!

Shigeru Ban is pushing to use cross-laminated timber in Ukraine’s largest hospital rebuild!

Last month, Wood Central reported that Shigeru Ban was heading a global campaign to raise $80 million to construct a new mass timber hospital to mend the growing number of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

“We need to build immediately, even before the war is ended,” Mr Ban said, who is also developing a Styrofoam Housing System (SHS) – made from cardboard, recycled cardboard and timber to provide affordable housing solutions for those affected by the war.

The latest renders show a six-storey cross-laminated timber building incorporating a rectangular block with a gridded facade and an expressed-timber entrance canopy.

About 150,000 internally displaced people are said to be living in Lviv after they fled Russian attacks in the eastern and southern parts of Ukraine. The city has a population of about 700,000, with more than 15,000 reported to have received treatment.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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