We talked to Charles Gallavardin of Kanopya Living about luxury lodges and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Charles Gallavardin: I’m an Entrepreneur Architect and Lodge Builder based in Vietnam (Saigon), one of the rare country facing very well the pandemic as we count only 2,500 cases in total (35 deaths) from the beginning of COVID, for a country of 95 million inhabitants.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kanopya Living.
Charles Gallavardin: I’m Architect with strong expertise in bioclimatic Design and true Sustainable Construction. I also have expertise in Timber design and construction. I found T3 Architecture in France in 2007 with 2 partners. Then I set up T3 Architects with my wife Tereza in Vietnam and Cambodia 10 years ago (2011) to design green buildings in the South-East Asia region. Last year (2020), I set up the Start-Up Kanopya Living, producing high-end timber Lodges tailor-made for the luxury & sustainable Hospitality industry.
How does Kanopya Living innovate?
Charles Gallavardin: Kanopya Lodges is, for sure, one of the 5 best Lodge Solutions on the Worldwide Market. Our Lodges are produced in Vietnam and deliverable in KIT all around the World. They are seismic and typhoon resistant, have a very low carbon footprint (from design to installation) and are very energy efficient. They offer 5* standards comfort even if we manage to bring the “tent” spirit, which is really unique. Kanopya Lodges are perfectly adapted to any remote areas or countries not having strong skills in prefab-construction. It also offers possibilities to make floating building concept; we are currently developing some floating Hotels Concept for the European market.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Charles Gallavardin: I would say very positively. Indeed, our Turnover increases significantly since COVID appear, as it seems that many developers and investors start to realize that you cannot continue to build without taking much more care about the environment and natural resources. So many of them recently started to consider truly sustainable solutions like Kanopya. Our personal vision becomes more shared, and that’s good for our business.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Charles Gallavardin: For Kanopya Living, I can observe that decision take a bit more time than normal due to the pandemic, but in the end, our products are perfectly fitting with the new deal for the luxury Hospitality sector: eco-friendly product, no chemical and no plastic (air quality), very strong wellness approach, respect of communities… So our “order book” fills up quickly to deliver Lodges or complete Resort Design solutions for 2021 and 2022. Kanopya requires only 6 months between the Order and Handover of the project. So you can have your Resort under operation much faster than using any “traditional construction” method.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Charles Gallavardin: My main concern was to preserve very nice working conditions for our Designers and Partners (architects, engineers, Interior Designers, landscapers) by keeping the same level of salary (even increase salary during a pandemic), starting to hire new employees right now, and at the end be prepared for the Post COVID arriving very soon!
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Charles Gallavardin: We have a few competitors, but we respect them very much. Our Kanopya product is probably a step forward to most of the other Lodges Solution on the worldwide market, especially in terms of engineering. We spent 18 months on R&D (with the best engineers mainly based in France) to develop Kanopya, and that’s why we are very confident to offer one of the best solutions for the next decades in a booming market. We already have some plan to continue to develop new Prefab-Buildings solutions in timber structure but for other climatic areas like Mediterranean countries and Oceanic area.
Your final thoughts?
Charles Gallavardin: I would like to be optimistic and see the pandemic as a Chance to create a better world for the future generation. It looks a bit naive, but dreamers and innovators are the ones who can show the way for a better future. We have to stop with “business as usual” and reconsider our economy, and business can be beneficial for the general interest and local communities. In my opinion, being a Start-Up entrepreneur should go with a humanist vision of the World.
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