Zaha Hadid Architects Reveal Ecological Residential Complex for the Mayan Riviera


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Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed plans for a new ecologically-considered development located on a lush site along the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. Known as Alai, the complex will offer a nature-focused living experience while preserving a large portion of the forested site for species restoration.


© www.mir.no

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Since the turn of the century, the Mayan Riviera has grown into one of the most important touristic regions in Latin America, welcoming more than 20 million arrivals last year. Matching this growth, the residential population of the area has nearly doubled since the year 2000, turning the natural paradise into an important center for business.

This popularity has created the need for new development that can accommodate a large number of people, provide an engaging design experience, and preserve the natural ecological conditions for years to come. Located on a site already prepared for construction of a never-completed complex, Alai plans to adhere to these principles by limiting its combined footprint to less than 7% of the site’s total area, creating a haven for the site to return to its natural state.


© GrossMax

© GrossMax

© ZHA

© ZHA

An botanical nursery will contribute to the restoration of species on site, with plantings following a plan conceived in conjunction with landscape architects Gross Max. In addition to the regrowing schedule, a woodland nature and a coastal wetland reserve will be create to protect existing species such as the lagoon mangroves. These reserves will also become an attraction for visitors, made accessible by suspended footpaths that reduce impact on the ground.

The residential buildings will be connected by an elevated platform containing amenities for sport and leisure and wrapped in a perforated facade that will allow natural light to penetrate into the spaces. By raising the podium nine meters above the ground, local wildlife will be able to continue traversing the site without impediment, while residents will be treated to views of the treetops and the coast beyond. Four different apartment typologies, each with their own private balcony, will provide residents with a range of living options and views to the Caribbean Sea or Nichupté Lagoon, while maximising the ability of the onshore trade winds to provide natural ventilation for the units.


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The architects explain:

Echoing the rich textures and surface complexity within the local Mayan masonry and architectural tradition derived from the repetition and variation of a small number of geometric components, the differing texture and patterning of each building’s façade within Alai is generated by assembling the balcony units and façade elements in varying sequences. This enables elements of relatively few different designs to create a unique facade for each building, yet maintains a cohesive design language throughout. These textured facade and balcony units provide solar shading to the apartments within.

News via Zaha Hadid Architects.

  • Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects
  • Location: Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, Mexico
  • Zha Design: Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher
  • Zha Project Director: Juan Ignacio Aranguren
  • Zha Project Associate: Maurizio Meossi
  • Zha Project Architect: Arya Safavi
  • Zha Design Team: Annarita Papeschi, Cristina Capanna, Zetta Kotsioni, Shahd Abdelmoneim, Raquel Arauco, Agata Banaszek, Delfina Bocca, Megan Burke, Afsoon Eshaghi, Michela Falcone, Natasha Gill, Francesca Gulizia, Jinmi Lee, Kate Revyakina, Neil Ridgen, Michael Rogers, Mattia Santi, Flavia Santos, Gaganjit Singh, Nicholette Chan, Leonid Krykhtin, Seungho Yeo, Yifan Zhang
  • Zha Concept Design Associate: Paulo Flores
  • Zha Concept Design Team: Maria Tsironi, Megan Burke, Aiste Dzikaraite, Natasha Gill, Andrew Hass, Zetta Kotsioni, Igor Pantic, Sergiu-Radu Pop, Kate Revyakina, Arya Safavi, Mattia Santi, Michal Wojtkiewicz, Bogdan Zaha
  • Client: Pulso Inmobiliario
  • Associate Local Architect And Landscape Architects: GVA Arquitectura Integral
  • Landscape Design Concept: Gross Max
  • Environmental Consultants: Q2 Consultor
  • Planning Consultants: Hitech Caribe
  • Project Management: SUDOCC
  • Structural Consultant: BAC – García Jarque Ingenieros
  • Mep: PGI Ingenieros
  • Facade Consultant: Front Inc.
  • Lighting Consultant: Luz y Forma

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