Playa Grande, Dominican Republic—Located on a lush, previously undeveloped site in Playa Grande in the Dominican Republic, The Retreat House sits at the cusp of a dense jungle on one side, and a pristine beach on the other. Known as “Casa Las Olas,” the 20,000-square-foot vacation home is designed to take advantage of both faces of the property, drawing inspiration from the rich natural landscape.
The Retreat House is the hub of a deep, ocean-facing 4.5 acre compound, which also features two guest homes, a yoga pavilion, and a structure for relaxation adjacent to the beach. All structures and interiors are designed by Young Projects, with softly meandering pathways connecting each.
For the Dominican Republic residence, the clients envisioned a refuge from city life where serene, private spaces for contemplation coexist seamlessly alongside communal areas for creative exchange and entertainment. The wife is a documentary film producer, meditation author, and yogi, and is currently developing a VR application for meditation, while the husband is a tech investor and film producer.
Both are passionate philanthropists and arts patrons with a large, like-minded community who they will entertain at the Retreat. Visitors arrive at Retreat House from a narrow road that meanders through tropical gardens, and approach the building on a travertine and gravel footpath. The open-air entrance, lined in weathered ipe, leads under the home and up travertine steps into a breezy central courtyard.
There, framed views of the ocean and horizon are revealed, eliciting a sense of arrival. Young describes the ascent as “a moment of compression releasing into the courtyard, and dramatic reveal of the postcard view of the ocean and horizon.” In essence, the Retreat House is a courtyard parti, where indoor rooms form a ring encircling the central courtyard, which spills dramatically onto the beach at the property’s front.
The ring shifts and molds around the site’s most spectacular natural elements, including an age-old tree covered with vines, bromeliads, and other symbiotic species situated at the courtyard’s center. A sunken seating area at the base of this tree offers space for intimate gatherings or breakfast in the dappled morning light. The outside face of the courtyard is white concrete poured into a formwork of palm stems gathered from the site.
The stems were cut to various lengths in order to create an abstract yet organic and textural quality for this central space. The scalloped surface plays with light and shade.The jungle canopy becomes another architectural guideline for the home: its roof nearly grazes the canopy’s lower leaves but does not disrupt them. The roof is a defining element of theresidence.
Constructed from 160 exposed scissor trusses which change shape and rotate, it undulates across the top of the home, accentuating the residence’s semi-circular form and the panoramic experience of the site. The wife has compared the animated roof geometry to yoga positions. Overall, the residence’s interior spaces provide privacy while insistently pointing towards the spellbinding landscape outside. Dramatic spatial moments and views of breathtaking natural
vistas punctuate each room and drive circulation through the home.
Each of the home’s seven bedrooms feature a flood of natural light and private balcony for jungle- and ocean-gazing. Interior common spaces also take advantage of the compound’s overarching indoor-outdoor lifestyle and are oriented towards large windows and doors that can be thrown open to reveal sprawling terraces and expansive views. Conceptualized as a grab-and-go “24-hr Deli,” the kitchen caters to outdoor picnicking on the terrace or beach.
The open-air living room is a dramatic double-height space, extending up to 30-feet high, with exposed overhead roof trusses from which Young Projects-designed rattan Bover pendants suspend. The pool itself features an infinity edge towards the ocean, while its shallow end incorporates a wide wading section in which lounge chairs can be submerged. Similarly, the family room draws attention to both interior and exterior activities.
The architecture aspires to find a balance with the landscape and the diverse set f activities from yoga retreats to family reunions. Beyond the Retreat House, other structures across the compound encourage private reflection and wellness, each with a unique function and aesthetic. The Glitch House is the first building visitors encounter when arriving at the property from the jungle side, setting the tone for the structures that follow, all of which draw heavily from their natural surroundings.
Adjacent to the shore, the Rock House and Yoga Pavilion become zones focused on thoughtful exercise, meditation, and relaxation. The Rock House nestles at the beach’s edge as a unified collection of six stone-like masses—a geometry broadly suggestive of naturally eroded rock formations or strange ruins. At the beachside Yoga Pavilion, a large cantilevered roof offers shade and raincover for group yoga sessions, music performances, and al fresco dinners overlooking the ocean. The roof itself is an expansive ipe yoga deck, bounded by an infinity edge water feature on all sides and offering sprawling, uninterrupted views of the Dominican coast. Source by Young Projects.
- Location: Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
- Architect: Young Projects
- Principal: Bryan Young,
- Partner and Project Manager: Noah Marciniak
- Interior Design: Young Projects with Sukey Novogratz
- Interior Design Consultant: Jean Lin of Colony
- Structure: Silman
- Construction: Gentry Construction and Vanderhorst
- Landscape: Green Paisajismo and Juan Diego Vasque
- Local Consulting Architect: Estudio Sarah Garcia
- Contributing Dominican Designer: Desiree Casoni
- Styling and Floral Arrangements: Casa Alfarera (Ysabela Molini) and Bosque Urbanos (Natalia
- Franch) and Marina Vidal-Young
- Area: 20,000-square-foot
- Year: 2021
- Photographs: Iwan Baan, Courtesy of Young Projects