Project Name: Islas Secas Reserve and Lodge

Location: Chiriqui, Panama

Date Completed: 2019

Interior Designer: Hart Howerton

Located off Panama’s Pacific coast, global design firm Hart Howerton worked closely with the Islas Secas ownership team as architects and planners to transform an existing resort facility into a World-class adventure outpost that would benefit both the environment and economy of the surrounding region.

The Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge is expected to raise the bar on sustainable, off-the-grid luxury in the region by offering exclusive access to no more than 18 guests to experience exhilarating recreation across 14 private islands in the Bay of Chiriqui. Having opened in January 2019, the project has four casita sites with plunge pools and decks overlooking the Pacific and the islands of the archipelago. The resort also features a sophisticated Panamanian restaurant as well as a lounge and bar.

The Terraza, the iconic shelter and gathering house floats on a sweeping, wooden deck above the beach edge at the heart of the resort. Hart Howerton conceived it, along with the waterside arrival pavilion, as a set of intriguing open-air gabled roof structures – ideal forms for Simon Valez, the bamboo master-builder, to lovingly bring to life. Together, they bridge between land and ocean and welcome visitors to this remarkable place.

Villa Residencia uses specialist artisan skills; the house on the peninsula perches on a cliff outcropping surrounded by breaking surf, an organic form gliding down the hillside above rich vegetation. Its roof undulates, held up by a sustainably harvested eucalyptus structure, tracing the topography and rooms below, creating calm shade and protection from the sun and rain. 

The architectural goal was to be Eco-Sustainable; A holistic design with its roots in authentic Canal Gamboan Style. This organic design vernacular aims to live lightly on the land through incorporating environmentally friendly principles and deeply embracing natural resources. Using local and sustainable building materials the resort’s commitment to environmentally responsible design extends beyond the teak and stone structure to include a solar array that powers the whole island in addition to an organic farm that utilises recycled water.