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A resort in the Philippines with hanging gardens and floating pools

A resort in the Philippines with hanging gardens and floating pools


Büro Ole Scheeren, the international architecture firm founded by Ole Scheeren, is unveiling design details of a new resort in Cebu, Philippines. Called Abaca Resort Hotel, it will offer “a journey of discovery and surprise” by combining waterfalls, lush rainforest, arched colonnades and pools, creating a surprising harmony in itself.

Abaca Resort Hotel’s design is inspired by the beauty of the Philippines’ lush natural environment and the rich traditional vernacular architecture of the 16th century. “This project tells a story, reveals Ole Scheeren. A story of discovery and surprise, a story of wonder and curiosity, a story of the language of architecture and the power of local nature. It is a journey into the rainforest, an exploration of habitable structures, places of rest and relaxation, an intimate sensory experience”. Upon arriving at a forest clearing sheltered by the tree canopy, visitors enter an open-air lobby, walk past green foliage and see the ocean panorama. Arched colonnades recall ancient archaeological structures rooted in the jungle and frame slender archways amidst the landscape.

Multi-level terraces and water basins provide private, intimate spaces for gatherings, while linear pillars extend into the sea. A gently curving silhouette rises above the tree canopy and the layered topography of pools and waterfalls. The subtly concave volume embraces panoramic views of the sea, built from a vertical lattice of arches that stack, retreat, and protrude to form shaded balconies and floating pools in the sky. Pockets of greenery punctuate the tower, revealing glimpses of social housing. “The architecture echoes memories of past cultures, embodying them in a new setting, says Scheeren. Notions of local craftsmanship merge with modern technologies, the façade unfolds a playful three-dimensional grid of arched frames, each containing a personal and intimate view of the ocean with its vertical colonnades and hanging gardens, the building grows into the sky like a long-lost tropical village”.

The curves of the facade continue into the Suites and Sky Villas, giving a confined and enclosed feel like home. With their generous outdoor terraces and private pools, they create the illusion of individual floating bungalows with unobstructed views of the sea. Craftsmen and craftsmanship have played an important role in the formation of Cebu and its historical development. The design draws from various vernacular crafts and adopts local building practices and materials, as well as a keen awareness of the environment. Using passive energy saving strategies, the building minimizes heat gain and maximizes energy efficiency, capitalizing on natural ventilation with open corridors pierced by green pocket gardens, allowing full cross ventilation of all interior spaces. Water conservation systems are adapted to tropical climates and create biotopes throughout the project’s waterscapes. Materials will be primarily locally sourced, to support cost savings and reduce transportation radius. Designed as a fully integrated experience, the project’s architecture, interiors, and landscape tell of the wonders of nature, the beauty of the landscape and ocean, the culture of civilization and architecture, and the significance of materials and workmanship.

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