Dunia Baru owner Marc Robba has slated a March opening for an Eco Learning Center in the village of Sauwandarek on Mansuar island in Raja Ampat.
Robba and other key members of the project’s team met with Sauwandarek’s chief, known as Baba, and the village elders late last year to finalise the last aspects of the Learning Center.
Measuring 20m by 12m, the building will be positioned directly in front of the village’s picturesque pier, looking out over the ocean.
“We were thrilled to formally map out the site,” said Robba, whose 51m Phinisi charter yacht has chartered extensively in the region since it was launched in 2014 after eight years of construction.
“It was important that we took the time to agree with the chief and village elders on the perfect location for the Learning Center. This is going to be a space where people can come together in learning and community. It needed to feel natural.”
Robba and his team also made a trip to Batanta island, 15 miles from Mansuar, to inspect the source of the building’s 25 cubic metres of wood being used for the project, a local hardwood called merbau, a robust timber that deepens in colour with age.
“We made a tough one-kilometre trek into the forest to find the first tree that had been carefully selected for the centre,” said Robba, who estimated that about 12 trees will be needed.
“An entire village – about 22 families – on Batanta specifically work to responsibly select and harvest the island’s timber. Once the wood is prepared, it’s brought by small boat across the Dampier Straits back to Sauwandarek.”
The Dunia Baru Learning Center will sit lightly on the land and has been designed by renowned architect Popo Danes to blend in with the traditional architecture and natural surroundings.
Three of the original master shipwrights who worked on Dunia Baru’s build will assist local builders in the project and teach them advanced woodworking techniques.
Once built, the centre will feature a well-stocked library and multi-use meeting and teaching space, where conservation, the environment and the importance of preserving the unique local habitats will be taught, along with skills such as cooking, tourism and homestay operation.
“The Learning Center will really help my community,” said Baba, who has been the village chief for eight years, having lived there since 1991 with his wife of 39 years.
“I want Sauwandarek to be known as a village at the forefront of tourism in Indonesia, helping to make a positive impact, so travellers share their stories of Raja Ampat and Indonesia with the world.
“Raja Ampat is famous for what lies under the water, but there is also so much more. From rare birds, to natural scenery, friendly people and unique culture, we have it all.”
Robba also plans to open a regional office for Dunia Baru on Waisai island in March 2020. The office will act as an operational hub for the superyacht in one of its most popular cruising grounds.
“We are so passionate about the Learning Center project and excited that it is moving forward as it is. For anyone who knows Raja Ampat, this is a really special part of the world,” Robba said.
“Dunia Baru is lucky to be able to spend time in these beautiful waters and build relationships with the people here. By opening a dedicated Raja Ampat office and by building the Learning Center, which hopefully will be the first of many, we are investing in the future of the region. It is exciting.”
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