Zaha Hadid Architects reveal Mayan Riviera residences engulfed by the jungle
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Zaha Hadid Architects reveal Mayan Riviera residences engulfed by the jungle

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Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have designed a host of leisure features for a residential building on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, including a woodland nature reserve, botanical nursery and a network of footpaths suspended above a lagoon.

Located on a site prepared by a previous owner for an unbuilt complex, Alai is a new residential community from developer Pulso Inmobiliario, with the creation being guided by environmental principles.

ZHA’s design for Alai is defined by the site’s rich natural environment and surrounding Mayan heritage and design traditions.

The footprint of all residential buildings has been limited to less than seven per cent of the site’s total area, enabling landscape architects Gross Max to retain the existing tropical vegetation and replant previously-disrupted species to return most of the site to its natural state.

The planned onsite botanical nursery will help restore the local ecosystem further and is planned to become an attraction and education facility in their own right. ZHA, Gross Max and local specialists are also creating the new nature reserve and replanting the coastal wetland to protect and enhance the mangroves of the lagoon.

Interlinked footpaths suspended above the forest floor will allow residents to access the woodlands, coast and lagoon without disturbing the ground and damaging the wildlife.

The buildings themselves will share an elevated platform with integrated perforations, “allowing natural light to flood the ground below and enabling tropical vegetation to grow upwards through the platform.”

Sport, leisure and wellness amenities will be located across the platform, 9 metres (29.5 feet) above the ground, again protecting the flora, fauna and animal life below.

The apartments are organised in four different floor typologies. The glazed exterior walls of each apartment open onto large private balconies with views to the Caribbean Sea or Nichupté Lagoon.

“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," said ZHA.

“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."

The number of visitors to the Mayan Riviera is increasing by over 10 per cent each year and surpassed 20 million in 2016. The residential population has almost doubled since the year 2000. Pulso Inmobiliario’s aim with Alai is to accommodate this continued growth while curtailing its negative impact on the environment.

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Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) have designed a host of leisure features for a residential building on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera, including a woodland nature reserve, botanical nursery and a network of footpaths suspended above a lagoon.
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