Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled its nature-immersed residential ‘Alai’ development, which will be realised along the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. The region’s growing number of tourists and residents have brought new opportunities and projects to the tropical location. Consequently, there is a profound need to protect and curtail architecture’s impact on the environment.
Located on a site prepared by a previous owner for an unrealised complex, the design seeks to integrate a new residential community, while minimizing the effect on local ecosystems. Zaha Hadid Architects will also landscape a woodland nature reserve, together with the replanting of coastal wetland to protect and enhance the lagoon’s mangroves. This will establish a network of suspended footpaths that enable residents to access the woodlands, coast, and lagoon without disturbing the ground.
The rich textures and surface complexity found within the region’s local Mayan masonry is reflected on Alai’s façade. This is evidenced in the differing texture and patterning of each building’s envelope, generated by assembling the balcony units and façade elements in varying sequences. These façade and balcony units simultaneously provide solar shading to the apartments within.
The residential buildings 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. The apartments are organised in four different floor typologies — in response to the client’s brief — and integrate generous living areas and bedrooms.
A wide range of amenities for sport, leisure and wellness are located on this raised platform nine meters above the ground to ensure local wildlife can cross the entire site on the woodland floor without barriers. Being just above the canopy of the surrounding vegetation, residents and guests have views over the treetops to the Caribbean coast and lagoon beyond from all shared amenities.