The key to allowing the past to seep into the present is embracing a degree of unpredictability, which in the case of Calistoga Ranch, took the form of materials with surfaces susceptible to patina and tree growth through decks and bungalows that we designed so that each guest could encounter a unique experience based on the living environment surrounding their lodge. At the recently opened AMARA Hotel located in Cyprus, on the historic Greek settlement of Amathus, dating back to four centuries BC, an outcropping of history became an unpredictable part of the design when excavating and clearing the area for construction.
Remnants, including a 50ft section of an ancient wall and a spring well, were uncovered and we worked to protect and preserve the local relics, integrating and encapsulating them within the design as a unique feature in the spa. These efforts to weave unexpected discoveries of the past, along with the tactile experiences, indigenous building materials, and vegetation meticulously incorporated throughout the resort, bring the region and its history to life for guests in an authentic and surprising way.
By creating each lodge at Calistoga Ranch with a series of prefabricated modular units set upon pier foundations, and placing them so as not to disrupt the environment or necessitate the removal of trees, we created a space where the past could gracefully extend its reach in the present.
We responded to the zoning restrictions by using stick-built construction and trying to disturb the site as little as possible; but set upon pilings, rather than on traditional slab or perimeter foundations, the lodges both nestle into the land’s historical character and hovers above the landscape, allowing unrestrained root growth and natural drainage patterns within the sensitive setting. It is challenging to navigate such an intricate mix of parts and pieces, but Calistoga Ranch is now a five-star resort deeply rooted in fulfilling a timeless need: shelter from the noise and haste of the day-to-day world through nature’s solace.
At one of our current projects, Mill District in Healdsburg, California, SB Architects has been tasked with transforming a former lumber mill site, into a mixed-use community. In a nod to the site’s industrial heritage (as Nu Forest Products’ former lumber mill site), the design integrates Mill artifacts and uses wood in a dramatic way – such as robust beams from Nu Forest’s last cut – to create a distinct district that retains its agrarian roots, provincial charm, and heritage.
Originally created for and published on Hotel Executive as ‘The Value of Retaining Historical Character in Hotel Design’.