Vieques Hotel Design Philosophy, by John Hix Architect
Our guests often ask why Hix Island House is the way it is.
To me, things that I find in Nature are more fascinating and beautiful than things that are made by man. I strive to make my buildings fit with Nature. I also endeavor to understand the forces in Nature that cause those natural things to be what they are. It therefore seems to me that, as an architect, I should attempt to understand those same natural forces that would affect my buildings.
You will discover on Vieques many huge, extraordinary, gray, granite boulders strewn on the land from some primordial era.
The sculptural qualities of these are awe-inspiring beyond that of Moore. These rocks harmonize with the countryside and are unanticipated when encountered. They do not shout. It seems sensible that my Vieques buildings should be sculpture absorbed and concealed by the landscape. I often think how exceptional this island countryside would be with unpainted houses.
At Hix Island House, our guests welcome a divergence from their mundane urban/suburban life.
They want to “get away from it all”. A milieu of contrast for me, is the very essence of re-creation. I am obligated to construct rustic, simple, undemanding environments, leeway for personal interpretation and inspiration.
Designing with natural forces (sun, topography, breeze, rain, climate) has many advantages.
My houses are designed to conserve commercial energy, reduce repair and maintenance, minimize the use of chemicals, thus treading lightly on the Earth. The houses collect rain water and heat it with the sun. Then, after use, they give the water to the surrounding flora. The houses convert the sun’s rays into electricity. They rest on a topography that enjoys a constant trade wind, and are open to reflective vistas so quintessential for the contemplative prospect.
Hospitable for humans, and inhospitable for mosquitoes.
The rooms are designed to capture the cooling trade winds, which is a pleasure for humans. For mosquitoes however, this is uninviting. They seek dark, stagnant air, which is the opposite of that found in our rooms.
The large openings facing east supply lots of light and a cross-breeze, keeping mosquitoes at bay.
The Wabi-Sabi construction of block and reinforced concrete surfaced with plaster is hurricane, earthquake and fire proof.
Unglazed windows offer our guests direct connection with climate and Nature, an occurrence found wanting in the urban experience. Our concrete houses with their steel rolling doors and heavy wood shutters have become havens for our neighbors and friends during hurricanes. We encountered no damage from the three we have withstood.
My approach to the landscape is one of “Gardening Nature.”
Adding some species, but mainly removing the vines from those that we found “naturally” on the site, is how I would define our approach to the landscape at Hix Island House. In this way we delight in instant landscape with low maintenance, because the species are native. It is a landscape that is one with the surrounding countryside, “Nuestro Campo”.