Mexico’s stunning Riviera Maya looks nothing short of paradise, but its beauty has also proven a burden on ecological preservation. With the Yucatan Peninsula’s booming tourism and environmental degradation in mind, Zaha Hadid Architects designed Alai, a residential complex in the Riviera Maya that embraces luxury but still maintains low environmental impact. Inspired by local Mayan culture and architecture, the nature-filled development will also contribute to restoration of native flora and fauna.
Located on a site prepped by a previous owner for an unbuilt project, Alai will minimize its environmental impact by limiting the combined footprint of all its residential buildings to less than 7 percent of the site’s total area. The architects also plan to repair the previous owner’s damage to the site. Zaha Hadid Architects will collaborate with landscape architecture firm Gross Max and use replanting to repair the landscape, reverting the remainder of the site into a natural state that includes a woodland nature reserve and coastal wetland. To this end, the architects designed an onsite botanical nursery that serves as an attraction and tool for site restoration.
Alai’s luxury apartments as well as sport, leisure, and wellness amenities will be set on an elevated platform just above the canopy so as to not disturb local wildlife crossings. The apartments offer four different floor typologies, all of which enjoy ample amounts of natural light, natural ventilation, private balconies, and unobstructed views to the Caribbean Sea or Nichupté Lagoon. The sinuous and textured facade draws inspiration from local Mayan masonry and the rich natural environment.
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