Zaha Hadid Architects has set its sights on the Mayan Riviera, future home of its most recently announced project, Alai — a nature-immersed, luxury residential development in Cancún, Mexico. The eco-conscious construction will cater to the region’s immense growth as an international tourist destination and its local population, which has nearly doubled over the past 17 years. By creating ecologically friendly low-impact architecture, the firm hopes to minimize the damage that could be made to the area as it experiences further expansion.
“Alai’s design is defined by its rich natural environment and reinterprets local Mayan heritage in a contemporary adaptation,” said ZHA on its website, “responding directly to the challenges of the Yucatán Peninsula’s increasing popularity with visitors from around the world while at the same time fostering the conservation of its original natural woodland and coastal wetland.”
Because the project is slated for Quintana Roo — the most visited region in Latin America — it was imperative for the architects to conceive a design that not only respected the locale’s Mayan history, but allowed the natural flora and fauna to flourish without any barriers. To achieve this, they proposed seven residential towers surrounded by a landscaped woodland nature reserve and replanted coastal wetland that would protect and enhance the existing mangroves of the adjacent lagoon.
A network of suspended footpaths would allow residents to access nature without disturbing the ground. In total, the construction is expected to take up less than 7 percent of the site’s total area. Landscaping will be completed in collaboration with Grove Max.
An on-site botanical nursery is also integrated into the design as a space committed to restoring and growing the local biodiversity while also serving as an educational facility.
The towers are designed in reference to the rich textures and surface complexity of the local Mayan masonry. Each structure’s exterior envelope includes a repetitive pattern and texture that differs from another, thus making the individual building a uniquely standout structure that’s also part of a cohesive design language. The balcony units are also arranged in varying sequences to achieve this.
The apartments are organized in four floor typologies that allow ample space for bedrooms and living areas. Each apartment features glazed exterior walls that open up onto the large private balconies with breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea or the massive Nichupté Lagoon. Onshore winds will provide natural ventilation for each apartment, while the balconies act as solar shading.
Each building is connected by an elevated platform with integrated perforations. These cutouts allow natural light to flood the ground floor 9 meters [30 feet] below while also enabling tropical vegetation to grow up through the platform. All amenities for sport, leisure and wellness are located on the platform to ensure wildlife can safely cross the entire site.
For more information on and images of Zaha Hadid Architects’ latest projects, check out the firm’s in-depth profile on Architizer now.
Renderings by MIR courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects