The traditional big roof of the Pacific region is reinterpreted and reimagined by contemporary geometry and designed to capture cooling sea breezes. Exposed heavy timber trusses establish a sense of scale to the sheltering nature of the roof form and the interior space of the treatment rooms.
Raised timber platforms define the footprint of each key space—the central courtyard and treatment rooms.
Water and botanical gardens further define the unique experiential conditions of each treatment room.
The spa’s roof marries Fijian design with modern simplicity, and its deep overhang provides a cool refuge from the sun’s harsh rays. An exploded axonometric drawing (right) details the geometry used to plan the spa. Phase 2 of the project will add two more treatment rooms, a pool, and a gym to the spa and expand its central courtyard.
rian Cavanaugh and Mark Ritchie know paradise. The two architects and cofounding partners of the Portland and West Vancouver–based firm Architecture Building Culture have spent more than 10 years formulating a new design language for Fiji’s Vomo Resort, helping to transform what was once a chain hotel into a five-star haven. They started with a master plan for the resort in 2004 and have since designed two villas (one built, another under construction), a restaurant, and a 4,840-square-foot spa for the property. Due to Vomo Island’s remote location, the architects were restricted in their material palette and building techniques. The pair responded by designing indigenously, using traditional Fijian building forms and materials already present on the isle. For the spa, the resort’s newest addition, Ritchie and Cavanaugh designed a large, steeply pitched roof similar to those on traditional island bures, or huts; its modernist geometry funnels cool breezes into the central courtyard. Walls clad in local volcanic rock (dug up during construction of a new access road) define and connect the various spaces. The stone’s dark color and rough texture counterbalance the
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Elemental stone walls provide primary organization to the spa, establishing the armature of its more refined spatial components.
white-painted plaster surfaces, and its inherent coolness offers a sense of respite from the island’s sun-soaked days. Treatment room interiors are minimalist but feel rich, with dark-stained cedar casework and floors. All views to the exterior were meticulously planned, offering the spa-goer privacy and a variety of unique outlooks. Each room has a courtyard with an outdoor shower, reflecting pools, and gardens planted with fan palms, taro, bromeliads, and hot-pink bougainvillea, all sourced from a nursery on the island. These elements are only part of the architects’ larger calculated strategy to design an idyllic modern retreat that transcends tropical-island stereotypes. “Visitors come to this location with very specific preconceived notions about going to an island in the South Pacific,” says Cavanaugh. “Those are interesting things for an architect to address.” The duo responded by creating spaces that help guests to focus on the nuances of their environment—which is the same approach they take on projects in their hometowns, 6,000 miles and an ocean away. As Ritchie puts it: “Whether in Fiji or the Pacific Northwest, we strive to build strong and meaningful connections between the architecture and the site, between the inside and the outside, and to create work that is culturally relevant to its context.” Sounds like design paradise to us. »
The DESIGN MAGAZINE for the Pacific Northwest.