Designed by Australian architect Kristin Green, la Plage du Pacifique Hotel is under construction along the beach of an island in Vanuatu - an archipelago over a thousand miles east of northern Australia.
Concrete has been used for the structures of each building in the complex, which includes 18 guest villas, a restaurant with a roof garden and sun lounge, and a swimming pool and spa facility.
Peter Bennetts joined Green on a site visit to capture the structures in pictures. Although almost complete, the buildings contain few traces of life, which the photographer says created the impression of "a ruin".
"Like pods of little whales, the off-form concrete villas swim together, entwining with native pandanus and rosewood trees in the face of trade winds and frequent cyclones," he said.
Comparing one structure to both an ancient monument and an iconic Italian villa, he added: "As in an Aztec temple, or Casa Malaparte, a stair leads to a deck on top of a form I'd describe as the architect's dance shoe. In the unflinchingly bright tropical sun the stair casts a shadow that Escher could've dreamed of."
Each structure is designed to be cyclone resistant, with cross-ventilation that will reduce the need for air-conditioning. The architect has also added a series of concrete walls that will offer shade from intense sunlight.
The swimming pool is modelled on the ancient Roman baths at Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, creating another reference to architectural monuments.
"The Colosseum has invaded these new lands, not a new notion for Western man," writes Green. "Here she protects from violent storms; patrons are offered a chance at romance, to dance, dream and escape."
Here are some more details from Kristin Green:
La Plage D'hôtel du Pacifique
Sounds of crashing waves and wind through the palm trees, the Hotel du Pacifique complex offers a protected paradise, set to take the world by cyclone. The buildings are designed to allow wind to pass through with little or no need for air-conditioning. Modern forms take on an ancient roman bath providing escape from the demands of the city. Areas are separated by dancing concrete limbs intertwined casting shadows to relieve one from the tropical sun.
D'hôtel du Pacifique: Restaurant Building
With this building we explored cinematic experience, coupled with the ideas of leisure, romance & dreaming. The ambience of 1950's movies where casual bathing attire is worn by day yet one likes to dress up in the evening for dinner. The building is organised around zones:
» À la carte restaurant and bar with reception for arrivals,
» Open air roof garden for dining, cocktails and sun bathing,
» Casual grill bar for patrons relaxing around the pool & outdoor facilities including; Pétanque, beach tennis, swimming, handball &/or board games.
D'hôtel du Pacifique: Villas Stage 1
The first 18 beach front villas are near completion. All components of the villas are custom made; complete in-situ concrete board marked walls, floor & roof, concrete benches, day beds, cast-in-place basins and handmade light fittings, in-built furniture, sunken baths along with timber herringbone windows which are hand carved from local timbers by local craftsman and hand-cut stone floors. Kristin is regularly on site coordinating fabrication techniques and ensuring consistency of local construction methods.
Each villa is conceived as a robust, cyclone ready building, the result of a series of key relationship studies between man, building & the tropical landscape. The nature of the body disrobing, exposure, privacy & the personalised experience offers a certain romance and seclusion for its patrons.
La Plage D'hôtel du Pacifique: Pool Area & Landscape
The pool/massage/spa component of the resort offers a place for the leisure, relaxation and sensual decadence that one would expect from a quality 5-star experience in the Pacifique. A concrete slide, colonnade and capital recall the Ancient Roman baths, a direct homage to Emperor Hadrian (the pool is literally measured from & at Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, outside Rome); 'only here can one truly dream of being lost in time'.
The pool and sun lounge area wraps around the building, white sand, the ocean, a sensuous entanglement. Memories of roman villas bedecked with capitals, pediments and statues offer a delight to the pool area; a shady concrete capital creates a weighty ambience and shade relief.
Irregular clusters of Pandanus & palm trees, a simple landscape of grass and white sand ground surface make bare feet is a must. The tree roots emerge from the ground like something of a child's dream, creating gentle barriers and shadows. Sandy walking paths wander through resort facilities, offering the odd secluded stopping point for new or renewed romance, a cocktail in hand, the soft floating fabric of colourful transparent sarongs and the opportunity to stroll into their villa.
Undulating mounds caress the landscape. Vines trace the board marked surface of the concrete walls, delighting patrons with their patterns. The birds sing amidst the trees and promises of the sea turtle sanctuary are desired to continue nature's course in the region.
Bridget is perched behind Athena's shield, a relief from the hallowing winds that are so frequent to the Pacifique region. The Coliseum has invaded these new lands; not a new notion for western man. Here she protects from violent storms.... patrons are offered a chance at romance, to dance, dream and escape; rekindling their love, offering hope for the future & their wellbeing.