Designed by studios Taller Lu’um and At-te, the Monte Uzulu boutique hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico has doors made from local wood and walls crafted with a combination of concrete, earth and natural lime. The name comes from the word gusulú, meaning “beginning” in the region’s indigenous Zapotec language.
As the hotel resides in the small fishing village of San Agustinillo, the designers wanted to honor the land surrounding the site by modeling the hotel to be close to nature. The Pacific Ocean can be found just a short walk away from the property, and construction kept as many trees as possible intact to make less of an environmental impact. According to the architectural team, a roughly 1,000-year-old jungle surrounds the hotel, so respecting the trees became a pivotal part of the design plan.
Monte Uzulu’s balance with nature shows in its construction materials, which include natural elements such as locally-sourced wood, soil and dried palm leaves. A pink rendering of earth, lime and natural pigment covers the concrete walls, applied by hand and palette knife.
The open-sided structure, moveable wood walls and thatched roof are modeled after the palapa design that is native to this part of western Mexico. This design promotes natural ventilation and less sun exposure, making it perfect for the area’s hot weather. Six rectangular structures with gabled roofs connect with a series of stairs, making up 11 guest suites and about 7,782 square feet of total area. Each room has a terrace overlooking the jungle and ocean, with interior concrete walls left exposed to match the concrete floors and fixtures. Local artisans crafted the furniture, such as shelves and bed frames, using local wood.
Sustainability measures, including a rainwater collection system, water recycling system, natural water pools and a biodigester to convert organic waste, are implemented to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact even further.