Located on an undeveloped site in the Dominican Republic, the Retreat at Playa Grande is designed to take full advantage of the pristine beachscape at the front of the property, balancing expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean with the experience of the lush, dense jungle that dominates the majority of the site. The project includes a main house, three guest bungalows, spa pavilion, kiva, and gatehouse totaling approximately 25,000 sf.
Multiple meandering paths through the site construct a spatial narrative that facilitates a sense of exploration and discovery. These carefully choreographed promenades preserve the natural environment of the site, subtly restructuring the landscape at key moments to transform the wild jungle into habitable space. At the Main House, these paths converge in a simultaneously grand and natural transition from thick forest to permeable building. Following natural shifts in topography, a visitor moves under the house and emerges up into the airy central courtyard where framed views of the ocean and horizon are finally revealed, eliciting a sense of arrival.
In the most diagrammatic sense, the Main House is simply a transformation of a courtyard parti. Directed by solar orientation, natural ventilation and the desire to preserve all existing trees and vegetation, the evolved form is a drifting ring that shifts in plan and section just below the jungle’s canopy. The roof is a ruled surface requiring over 200 scissor trusses; each is dimensionally unique, but simple in joinery and construction. The result is a highly complex and fluid structural condition that shifts along corridors, curves through primary double height spaces, and rotates to navigate the geometry at each corner. The design facilitates a panoramic experience of the site, from its diverse jungle landscape to its vast ocean views.