Alai, Architecture, Cancun, Design, Ecology, Environmental architecture, Mexico, Residences, Residential project, Skyscraper, Tower, Zaha Hadid Architects, ZHA

ZHA reveals ecologically-led residential towers in Mexico

Zaha Hadid Architects has recently released renders for its upcoming residential project, Alai, in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico.

Meant to accommodate the increasing number of visitors to the Mayan Riviera – which is currently seeing a 10 per cent increase each year and surpassed 20 million in 2016 – Alai marries ecological considerations, and engages design with a reinterpretation of Mayan architectural tradition.

The residential complex consists of six apartment buildings that are surrounded by a woodland nature reserve. Together with the onsite botanical nursery, the project’s replanting of coastal wetland will protect and empower the mangroves of the lagoon, which also involves a network of suspended footpaths that invite residents to access the surroundings and coast.

Alai’s apartment buildings are supported by an elevated platform that boasts integrated perforations, which invited natural light to flood the ground below and nurture tropical vegetation to grow through the platform. The complex also boasts amenities for sport, leisure and wellness.

According to a statement released by the firm, the project’s design echoes the “rich textures and surface complexity within the local Mayan masonry and architectural tradition derived from the repetition and variation of a small number of geometric components.”

Alai is, at its essence, a contemporary adaptation that reinterprets local Mayan heritage, responding directly to the challenges arising in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Zaha Hadid Architects looked to minimise the structure’s impact on the surrounding environment and local ecosystems, and achieved this by reducing the combined footprint of all of Alai’s residential buildings to less than 7 percent of the site’s total area, which protects existing vegetation and allows a majority of the site to eventually return to its original state through a replanting programme.

Driven by the growth in tourism while also hoping to soften its impact on the environment, Alai is looking to create a standard for future projects in the region.

designMENA has recently visited Zaha Hadid’s first project in Dubai, The Opus, which is set to open by September next year. The structure of the building will be completed by this summer.

The architects have also revealed new renders of the Opus’ interiors, including residential units as well as the lobby of ME by Melia, which will take up a portion of the building.