Published: Monday, 30 April 2018

The 51m Phinisi-style superyacht Dunia Baru will invest in a new eco-education centre in the village of Saundarek, Raja Ampat. The centre is due to open at the end of November 2018.

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(Photo: Dunia Baru)

It was a meeting between Mark Robba, owner of Dunia Baru, and the Raja Ampat government in early 2018 that highlighted the need for libraries in the archipelago and birthed the idea for the project.

Robba had been searching for a meaningful way to give back to the area and this was the opportunity. The Raja Ampat Tourism Authority recommended Saundarek, a village on Mansuar island, as the first site for a library.

“By pure coincidence, on the morning that our meeting was held, my family and I had been near Saundarek village," says Robba. "My six-year-old son had such a great time there, snorkelling and playing with the children – it was really special, and such a beautiful place. To have an on-going connection to this village have my family and I very excited.”

Once built, the Learning Centre will be a place for education and community, with a well-stocked library and multi-use meeting/teaching space. While topics on environment, conservation and local habits preservation will be taught, skills like cooking and higher standard food preparation for locally owned small homestays will also be included.

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There are 17 other villages around Raja Ampat that have been identified as potential sites for libraries and learning centres, and Robba is hoping that other yachts operating in the area, as well as future charter guests, will follow Dunia Baru’s lead and assist with building in other villages.

“Raja Ampat is a very special place for me and my family as well as for Dunia Baru and her charter guests,” says Robba. “The scenery is amazing, and the people have always been so kind. Every time I leave Raja Ampat I long to return. It means a lot that I am able to give back to the area with this project.”

The design of the centre will be led by Popo Danes, an Indonesian architect. “I know that for any venture to be successful you must get the right people involved,” says Robba. “The first person I thought about was my good friend and renowned architect Popo Danes, who immediately agreed to be involved. He then offered the services of his large team of architects, and the excitement continued to grow.”

Danes is known for creating buildings that are in harmony with natural surroundings and with local architectural traditions. His portfolio includes projects like Ubud Hanging Gardens.