Ole Scheeren’s design of the new Abaca Resort Hotel in Cebu is inspired by the beauty of the Philippines’ lush natural environment and rich (16th century) traditional vernacular, as it crafts spaces that unfold through moments of intimate encounter.

Project Name: ABACA Resort Mactan, Cebu
Studio Name: Büro Ole Scheeren
Year: 28 JULY 2021

ABACA Resort Mactan, Cebu By Büro Ole Scheeren - Sheet4
©Büro Ole Scheeren

“This project is telling a story”, says Ole Scheeren. “A story of discovery and surprise, a story of wonder and curiosity, a story of the language of architecture and the power of tropical nature. It is a journey through the rainforest, the exploration of habitable structures, places of rest and repose… an intimate sensory experience.”

Nature and Discovery

Arriving within a rainforest clearing and sheltered by tree canopies, guests enter an open-air lobby, move past the green foliage, to catch a glimpse of the ocean panorama beyond. Cascading waterfalls and pools descend into a lush landscape embedded with islands of tranquillity.

Arched colonnades recall ancient archaeological structures rooted in the jungle and frame soaring arcades amidst the landscape. Multi-level terraces and water basins offer private and intimate areas for gatherings. Linear piers extend into the sea and like fingers that lightly straddle the tides, with the ocean stretching to the horizon.

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©Büro Ole Scheeren

A Vertical Village Emerges

A gently curved silhouette rises above the tree canopy and the layered topography of pools and waterfalls. The subtly concave volume embraces panoramic sea views, built up from a vertical lattice of arches that stack, recess, and protrude to form shaded balconies and floating pools in the sky. Pockets of greenery punctuate the tower, revealing glimpses of social habitation.

“The architecture echoes memories of past cultures, embeds them in a new setting: Notions of local craftsmanship merge with modern technologies, the façade unfolds a playful three-dimensional grid of arched picture-frames, each containing a personal and intimate view of the ocean… with its vertical colonnades and hanging gardens, the building grows into the sky like a long-lost tropical village” says Ole Scheeren.

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©Büro Ole Scheeren

The arched curvatures of the façade extend to the inside of the Suites and Sky Villas, providing a sense of home-like containment and enclosure. With their generous outdoor terraces and private plunge pools, both Suites and Sky Villas attain the notion of individual, floating bungalows with sweeping sea views. The resort is simultaneously expansive and individual, a vertical frame of reference that contains a collection of individual experiences.

Local Craft and Environment

Artisans and craftsmanship have played an important role in shaping Cebu and its historical development. The design takes its cues from diverse vernacular crafts and embraces local construction practices, materials, and an acute environmental awareness.

Through mobilizing passive energy-saving strategies, the building minimizes heat gain and maximizes energy efficiency. It capitalizes on natural ventilation and with open corridors that are punctured by green pocket gardens, and the possibility for full cross ventilation of all interior spaces. Water conservation systems are customized for tropical climates and create biotopes throughout the waterscapes of the project. Materials will be primarily locally sourced to support local economies and reduce the radius of transportation.

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©Büro Ole Scheeren

Wholistic Experience

Architecture, Interiors and Landscape have been conceived by Büro Ole Scheeren and its collaborators as a fully integrated experience. They tell a story of the wonders of nature, the beauty of the landscape and the ocean, the culture of civilization and architecture, the meaning of materials and making, and take us on a journey to follow and explore our curiosities.


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