History & Design
The elements of the mystery of the indisputable success of this building are intriguing. It was designed in 1961 as a residential building for members of the political elites in the paradise location of Dubrovnik’s Sveti Jakov area by the architect Mladen Frka. Its function was changed during construction and in 1963 it was completed as an annex to the Hotel Argentina. Therefore, this building became a first herald of the reserved, rational architectual expression, quite different from the pre-war masterful realizations of other Dubrovnik’s hotels.
After additions in the 1970s, Villa Dubrovnik turned from an annex into a small hotel with around thirty rooms. Although it was given only three stars due to its spatial limitations, it was beyond all categories in many ways. Supreme food, hospitality, discretion towards and kind treatment of guests, unpretentiousness, its unique position on the rock with the view of the City, Lokrum and the deep blue sea, a hidden beach, the paradisal beauty of the fragrances and colours of the old Mediterranean garden, the patina of the retaining walls and paths, contemplative silence and tranquillity made this hotel of irresistible charm a privileged place for ultimate escape.
In 2003, the new owner decided to redesign the hotel, and to transform it into a luxury design hotel with around sixty rooms, an indoor swimming pool and a wellness centre. The architects - Boris Fiolić and Mira Tadej - were not only asked to place the complex programme contents on a steep cliff, in a protected landscape environment, but above all to preserve the hotel’s most valuable feature – the memory, image and brand of Villa Dubrovnik.
On the upper side of the hotel, symbolical aspects of the new entrance and hypertrophied Otranto retaining walls are virtuously used to create an atrium of dramatic, almost de Chirico- like atmosphere which reflects the powerful introvert calmness of a meditative enclosure. On the side facing the sea, the inherited character of the Mediterranean garden terrace is preserved. Carefully designed roofs hide the roof bar, the highest point, from which one can enjoy a unique view. The interior expression is elegant, simple, clear, close to a contemporary interpretation of the early reduced interiors of the first design hotels by Ricardo Legorreta, Anouska Hempel or Antonio Citterio. In spite of all the obstacles, architects Boris Fiolić and Mira Tadej have created a mature, clear and restrained work with which the former spirit, atmosphere and memory of Villa Dubrovnik continue to live with new life.
The entire ambience of the Sveti Jakov area’s unquestionable beauty was protected by conservationists’ propositions, as well as Villa Dubrovnik itself - a modest work of early 1960s modern architecture whose essential, formative aspect was actually not material, but made of thousands of fragments of atmosphere, memory, and spirit of the place.