Southern California, Hwy. 79…..past Warner Spring's tiny airport where they…
The properties of John Hix Architecture are deceptively simple, and in the spirit of Frank Lloyd Wright, work symbiotically with the natural surroundings of every project. The novelty exists inside the bones of the estate, with nothing superfluous, just long, lean symmetry.
Appealing to both affluent and eco-conscious travelers alike: those who value conservation, and respect local residents’ quality of life; questioning now more than ever if the kind of extravagance synonymous with luxury today is sustainable. In private practice since 1973, designing notable Canadian properties such as Ontario’s Quetico Park and Center, and Carter Design Group Experimental offices, among many other projects. His property in Vieques was initially a warm weather getaway for himself, but over time he decided to turn his property into a boutique eco hotel called Hix Island House Hotel. In this intensely humid setting he found a new set of challenges distinct from a four season environment like Canada and England, which commonly utilize elements such as wood and plaster, materials easily damaged by termites, wind and rain in Puerto Rico. The iconic House of Waterfalls, listed by Sotheby’s, with its conscious minimalism and expansive, breathtaking views, is yet another example of the genius behind the successful melding of symmetry and functionality.
Upon shadowing the locals, he observed that concrete was a commonly used material because of its ability to stand up to the punishing moisture, sun, and fierce storms of the climate. Some things he noticed with other hotels in hot climates is that they wasted a significant amount of water and energy in maintaining and cooling their properties. His warm weather homes are not air conditioned, but instead utilize a sensible placement of windows and solar powered fans to circulate fresh air, making them work with their environments. He also creates cantilevered concrete canopies for windows and balconies which look interesting, and protect the interior from driving rain and wind.
Solar panels generate electricity for fans, lights and refrigerators, and rainwater is stored and heated by the sun. The water from bathroom sinks and showers is filtered and used to irrigate the gardens. The Island House Hotel’s two “solar driven swimming pools produce no electrical cost. Silver and copper ions flow into the water requiring minimal chemicals and a refreshing swim. Employing climate forces (sun, breeze, rain) minimizes the costs of commercial water and electricity.” If you’ve never heard of Vieques, its an island in the Caribbean off the coast of Puerto Rico. Until recently, most of the land was property of the US Navy, so a great deal remains undeveloped, meaning no chain restaurants or extensive shopping areas, and no need for stoplights; a rare treat for travelers and potential buyers interested in a copious display of untouched flora and fauna.