Modern Concrete Getaway in Paradise
By Kelsey Keith / Published by Dwell

Casa Solaris at Hix Island House

Carr. 995, KM 1.5 – HC-02, Box 14902

Vieques, Puerto Rico 00765

Tel: 787-741-2302

Architect John Hix—who, as one might gather, worked under renowned American architect and concrete aficionado Louis Kahn—designed the hotel Hix Island House in Vieques, off Puerto Rico. The latest guest house on the property is called Casa Solaris and is entirely removed from the commercial grid, running completely on solar power. Photo by Michael Grimm.

Like the other buildings onsite, John Hix designed Casa Solaris to take advantage of the natural forces here in Vieques; wind, sun and rain. By creating open spaces, where basically the fourth wall is missing, John created a space that takes advantage of the trade winds that flow through the Vieques hills. By placing the open wall towards the trade winds (to the East), the room is constantly cooled, leaving no need for air conditioning. Photo by Michael Grimm.

From a visual standpoint it is quite different from the Mediterranean-influenced, stucco walls of most Caribbean resorts. It's built of block and reinforced concrete which makes for an interesting contrast to the lush surroundings of the island, and it stands up to extreme weather and hurricane-force gales. Photo by Michael Grimm.

The bathrooms recycle gray water from sinks and showers to help irrigate the surrounding landscape which includes native plants like hibiscus, banana, key lime, and ginger. Amenities include Rusk eco-friendly soaps, Frette towels, and Neeva Gayle night shirts. Photo by Michael Grimm.

The lofts in Casa Solaris include a full kitchen so guests can cook as they wish. The beds are outfitted in Frette linens and quilts by See Design. One of the other three walls faces south, to give the room constant shade throughout the day, and an opening on the West wall provides for sufficient cross ventilation. Photo by Michael Grimm.

There is a large cistern built into the base of the building, which collects rain water from the roof. Photo by Michael Grimm.

All the outdoor lounge furniture is from Dedon. Photo by Michael Grimm.

On the roof, Casa Solaris has 24 solar panels, which feed to 12 batteries in what the architect calls “the engine room," plus two 50-gallon, solar hot water heaters, which feed to the sinks and outdoor showers. Photo by Michael Grimm.

Kelsey Keith


Kelsey Keith has written about design, art, and architecture for a variety of print and online publications.

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