Bond Lairs


6a0120a64ae2c9970c0134887f83e4970c-800wiI’m once more having a few nights exercising my predilection for Bond lairs and brutalist architecture A few years back I stayed in Geoffrey Bawa’s astonishing modernist masterpiece the Heritance in Sri Lanka, which is built like a long concrete snake along the spine of a central mountain. It’s not for everyone, as the austere design negates the usual requirements of hotel guests (large open sunbathing areas etc), but as an act of ecological bravery alone it’s worth adding to your bucket list.

This time I’m staying in an eco- hotel in St Lucia without a fourth wall to its rooms, so that everything is open to the forest and sea. Like Bawa’s design it is constructed on pillars and walkways that support the central structure while minimising the light and heat impact on the landscape.

I’m only here for a few nights (hey, I’m the writer, not the director) but the plan is also to work most afternoons as my schedule for this year is going to prove punishing. When writers say they can work anywhere, they’re lying; they’d rather be somewhere sunny, which is why so many successful ones end up on the Cote D’Azur.

Caribbean      St. Lucia      Jade MountainClub entrance, Pitons in view

My fascination with modernist buildings stems not from Le Corbusier, the architect who almost managed to destroy Paris with monstrous carbuncles, but from Ken Adam’s designs for the earlier Bond films, which I reconstructed in balsa wood at home as a child, especially the climactic set from ‘You Only Live Twice’.

I also have a fondness for the boardroom that folds completely flat and becomes a cleansing furnace under a rocket in ‘Moonraker’. There are some film producers I’d like to put in there.

Film sets are not intended to be lived in (although I sometimes feel London has become the Blade Runner set, especially around Soho’s Brewer Street on a rainy summer night) but Adam’s designs had real architectural weight, in the same way that Sid Mead’s transport designs for ‘Blade Runner’ were actually manufacturable.

Perhaps hotels are the closest way we can live out our film dreams. The Aman chain of hotels seems to specialise in creating these hotel dreams, and if they’d like me to teach a writing course in every single one of their branches, I’m so available. Jade Mountain, the hotel in the West Indies, bears a remarkable resemblance to Piz Gloria, the mountaintop lair in ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – also the inspiration for the lair in ‘Inception’.


8 comments on “Bond Lairs”

  1. Dan Terrell says:

    I was fortunate enough to have stayed twice in Frank Lloyd Wright’s second version of his Imperial Hotel on the grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. It was amazing, but strange to walk through as the floor plan of the Mayan-slab (strata-like)building was shaped like an “H”.
    It had a world famous and impressive entrance and an open lobby several stories tall that was surrounded by several floors each with a walkway. You could stand outside your room and look out over the lobby and down on its small open restaurant.
    Each Cherry Blossom festival an old multi-story cherry tree was somehow brought into the lobby in a huge tub and over time it’s buds opened and filled the lobby with the most beautiful scent. Among the tree’s branches they hung illuminated coloured Japanese (natch) paper lanterns, and standing on one of the floors under the huge skylight, you could look into and among the tree’s branches at the many, many blossoms. It was amazingly calm and beautiful.
    I have colour slides somewhere, but that would be a search and a half. Second time there we were on our honeymoon so my newly-minted wife could enjoy it. Just a few years latter they tore down this famous building and built another Imperial Hotel. Wright version #3.
    Sounds like you are having a great time. It is just starting to snow again – at the moment! – but so far little is on the ground, but at 24 f it is so excitingly slick to drive out on.
    Catch some extra ray for us back here. I’m taking vit. D, curses.

  2. Simon Sperring says:

    Sounds like a cool place. How do you stay ‘bug free’ at night? My main memory of working in Africa was the whine of the mosquitos doing fly-bys every night.

  3. Joyce Bowler says:

    The Pestana Carlton Hotel in Madeira has a building at the back that looks exactly like a Bond lair. I think it’s used as a conference centre or ballroom. It was looking a bit tatty last time I saw it but it was pure 60’s chic overlooking the sea. The hotel is very near Reids but has better sea access and stunning views.

  4. Mike Cane says:

    >>>while minimising the light and heat impact on the landscape.

    And what about the, um, plumbing impact?

  5. admin says:

    Mosquito nets for freedom from bugs, and the water, which comes from the frequent rainfall and large on-island resources, is all recycled.

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Sunny climes are wonderful but do you really get as much and as high quality work done there? I would be willing to survey all tropically located writers.

  7. andrea.yang says:

    Glorious picture of St. Lucia, but how can you do any work with that view…?

  8. glasgow1975 says:

    Well Jel 😛

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