28th Dec 2015 - Style
HIX ISLAND HOUSE, PUERTO RICO
Designed and built to not only fit with nature, but to work in harmony with it, Hix Island House on the island of Vieques off the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico is both beautiful and highly functional.
Canadian architect John Hix designed and built Casa Triangular in 1989 as a winter retreat. Sited on a ridge that runs down the centre of the small island and open to the trade winds, Hix was inspired by the Wabi-Sabi design philosophy and the large granite boulders that scatter the surrounding landscape to create a structure that understood and accepted the forces of nature. Casa Triangular is a striking building of grey plastered concrete that contrasts with the tropical jungle that it sits in whilst reminding one of the rocks and boulder that informed its design.
“Wabi Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
Open to the elements with no glazing and offering expansive views over the tropical island, the buildings on Hix’s property (that now operates as a small sustainable hotel) harness and direct the trade winds to negate the need for air conditioning, whilst rainwater is harvested and heated by the sun to provide hot water before being recycled onto the gardens. The buildings are also designed to require little maintenance or repair, even following the hurricanes and tropical storms that often wreak havoc in the Caribbean; the strong, heavy construction of block and reinforced concrete surfaced with plaster looks minimalist and utilitarian however is simply designed to withstand the very forces of nature that cause friends and neighbours to seek shelter here during hurricanes.
Since building Casa Triangular, Hix has gone on to build four more similar properties on thirteen acres of Vieques hillside over the last twenty-five years and opened Hix Island House Hotel in 2014. The award-winning hotel has been certified as Puerto Rico’s first Sustainable Tourism Facility, and since opening several guests have gone on to hire Hix for their own private residential projects.
The Wabi-Sabi design philosophy says that as things age they become more beautiful. Hix Island House was created beautiful; a series of stylish structures that work in harmony with their surroundings and which will only improve as the jungle that surrounds them envelops them further.