Palapas are traditionally thatched roofs made from palm fronds, but in this Mexican office building in Cuernavaca, the palapa becomes part of a sustainability strategy and is used as part of the facade. Designed by REC Arquitectura, the Petat Glass office uses a common roofing material in equatorial regions in a new way that is both aesthetically pleasing and useful as part of a comprehensize sustainability strategy. Natural ventilation, daylighting and the palapa walls all help to minimize energy use and keep the space cool.
The office and retail building plays off local identity and was built by local craftsmen who are familiar with the methods of palapa construction. Experimental in design, but easily recognizable as part of the vernacular architecture, the Petat Glass buildings makes a case for alternative architecture. The geometric orthogonal building is respectful to the surrounding environment and largely relies on steel and glass for its construction.
Large, operable windows draw in lots of natural daylight and encourage cross ventilation through the space, which eliminates the use of air conditioning. The idea was to show that expensive and high tech systems are not necessary to create comfortable interior spaces. Simple and traditional materials, like palapa, can be used to encourage ventilation, cooling and create a visually stimulating space.