Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier

Alexis Dornier builds trio of tropical villas in Bali's surf haven Uluwatu

Architect Alexis Dornier puts a new spin on Balinese vernacular in his three Uluwatu Surf Villas, at a retreat billed as a paradise for surfers.

The Bali-based, German architect has combined humble materials like natural limestone and reclaimed teak to create the luxury villas, which boast private swimming pools, indoor-outdoor living spaces and impressive sea views.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House is one of the three villas

They form part of a small resort in Uluwatu, a town on the southernmost tip of Bali that has a reputation for its big waves and a surfing culture that dates back to the 1970s.

Dornier wanted to embrace this culture but also to create spaces that "strengthen the memorable experience and identity of the place". Working with Tim Russo, the entrepreneur behind the project, he developed his designs in response to the unique character of each site.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Like all the properties, it combines natural limestone and reclaimed teak

"Each project is new and different, but they all somehow derive from the question of what is good about the past, what is memorable and what do people associate with the place," the architect told Dezeen.

"I love to see people walking through our spaces and experiencing a sense of familiarity," he said, "but with all the elements together fostering curiosity and the excitement for the new."

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
A triangular pergola shades the swimming pool of Carbon House

In addition to the more generic titles given to the villas by the resort, Dornier chose unique names for each one he designed: Carbon House, House Aperture and Puri Bukit.

Carbon House is the most striking of the three, thanks to a triangular pergola that juts out at an angle to shade the swimming pool in front of the property.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
This sunshade features a geometric pattern across its surface

Slender lengths of wood create a geometric pattern within its transparent centre. Dornier likens both this element and the shape of the pool to a a diamond, hence the carbon reference.

"The wooden sun sail is reaching over the diamond-shaped pool, partly abstracting and framing both the ocean view and the sky," he explained. "It becomes the memorable object of this house."

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Bedrooms open out to the garden and pool

Single-storey and hexagonal in plan, this house has a simple layout.

An open-plan and open-air lounge, kitchen and dining-space faces directly onto the pool. Four bedroom suites are arranged to one side, so that they can also open out to the pool and garden.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Limestone creates tessellating patterns across the walls

The reclaimed teak, which was sourced from Java, covers the underside of the roof, while the locally quarried limestone creates tessellating patterns across the walls of the bedrooms and bathrooms.

"We used limestone as the combining narrative in all the structures," said Dornier. "This tied everything together in one composition, gave orientation and drew back into the identity of the resort."

Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture is a three-storey property that offers guests elevated views

House Aperture is a more modest-looking property, arranged over three floors so that occupants can enjoy elevated views of the scenic surroundings.

It features large window-walls, which can be opened up or screened behind teak sunshades.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
Teak sunshades slide across House Aperture's glazed facades

"All facades are more or less equal, layered by the exterior shading elements," said Dornier. "These filter the light, provide privacy and give the user the opportunity to passively cool all rooms."

"The reconfiguration of those elements throughout the day and night gives the small building an ever-changing appearance," he added.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
Teak dominates through the interiors of House Aperture

The living space is located on the middle level, opening out to the terrace and pool, while a pair of bedrooms are located on the floors above and below.

Teak dominates in all of these spaces. There are a few thoughtful additions too, including framed black and white images by surf photographer Dirk Hoole.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit is the third villa, featuring generously sized interiors

The third villa, Puri Bukit, features the most generously sized indoor spaces.

The pitch of its roof is emphasised by the exposed, wooden ceiling-structure, which offers a striking contrast to the pale rendered walls.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
An exposed wooden ceiling structure frames a central skylight

In the living space at the centre of the property, this decorative ceiling surrounds an angular skylight, which allows plenty of daylight to penetrate the interiors. The space also features double-height corridors.

"The absence of suspended ceilings give each room a unique character," said Dornier. "The skylight brings in natural light and gives the space a chapel-like feel."

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit also features double-height corridors

Bedrooms are organised around the perimeter of the pentagonal plan.

Each one has a corner window, so residents can enjoy panoramic views of the seafront and gardens behind.

Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Bedrooms have corner windows, offering panoramic views

Dornier has been based in Bali since 2013 and has worked on a number of projects in the area, including a housing development for travel-oriented co-living brand Roam.

He is about to launch a book detailing the various projects he has completed over the past six years.

"All of our projects look very different, because they draw from different approaches. But one of the constants is definitely the spirit of the place and the stories surrounding the place," he said.

Photography is by KIE.


Project credits:

Architect: Alexis Dornier
Construction: Bali Construction
Interior design: Alexis Dornier, Tim Russo
Collaborators: Uluwatu Surf Villas
Brands: Grohe, Toto, Tecnogas, Franke, LG, Sika flex

More images and plans

Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House floor plan
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House section one
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House section two
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture ground floor plan
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture first floor plan
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture second floor plan
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture section one
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture section two
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit floor plan
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit section one
Uluwatu Surf Villas floor plans and sections by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit section two
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Carbon House by Alexis Dournier
Carbon House
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: House Aperture by Alexis Dournier
House Aperture
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit
Uluwatu Surf Villas: Puri Bukit by Alexis Dournier
Puri Bukit