Büro Ole Scheeren, the international architecture firm founded by Ole Scheeren, has unveiled the design details of the new Abaca Resort hotel in Cebu, Philippines.

The design narrative throughout is inspired by the beauty of the Philippines’ lush natural environment and rich 16th century traditional vernacular.

“This project is telling a story,” reveals 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.”

Arriving within a rainforest clearing sheltered by tree canopies, guests will enter through an open-air lobby, move past the green foliage, to catch a glimpse of the ocean panorama beyond.

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, while linear piers extend into the sea.

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,” explains Scheeren. “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.”

The arched curvatures of the façade extend inside to the Suites and Sky Villas, providing a sense of home-like containment and enclosure. Wit generous outdoor terraces and private plunge pools, both Suites and Sky Villas create the illusion of individual, floating bungalows with sweeping sea views.

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.

By utilising passive energy-saving strategies, the building minimises heat gain and maximises energy efficiency, capitalising on natural ventilation with open corridors that are punctured by green pocket gardens allowing for full cross ventilation of all interior spaces. Water conservation systems are customised 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.

Conceived by Büro Ole Scheeren and its collaborators as a fully integrated experience, the project’s architecture, interiors and landscape tell a story of the wonders of nature; the beauty of the landscape and the ocean; the culture of civilisation and architecture; and the meaning of materials and making.

Photography: © Büro Ole Scheeren