Taking an action: reinventing the role of renewable energy in architecture
by Sunena V MajuDec 22, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Pallavi MehraPublished on : Feb 12, 2022
Atelier Nomadic has conceptualised bamboo treehouses that integrate with nature, for Playa Viva resort in Playa Icacos, Mexico, an environmentally conscious hotel dedicated to sustainability and regenerative practices. The retreat’s newest addition by the architecture and landscape design studio includes six bamboo treehouses inspired by the flattened, prismatic bodies of mobula rays that migrate past the property’s shore. Offering unobstructed views of a tranquil beach and surrounded by palm trees and verdant greenery, these treehouses are suspended mid-air and accompany the original treehouses designed by the Regenesis Group.
Atelier Nomadic is a design studio with offices in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Mauritius. It specialises in biophilic architecture and regenerative landscape design. Atelier Nomadic developed the construction strategy of these new treehouses in collaboration with bamboo expert, Jorg Stamm, who supervised the construction and brought a diverse team of bamboo craftsmen on board. The Playa Viva treehouses are a great example of environmentally sustainable architecture. They exhibit limitless possibilities in design and construction materials, and question the status quo.
Each new treehouse comprises a master bedroom at the front and an annex treehouse at the back. The master bedroom features a hammock balcony suspended out towards the sea and the annex treehouse comprises a lounge with daybeds, a study area with a desk, and a bathroom. While these treehouses are built of bamboo, they are well appointed with wooden furniture and luxurious amenities. The structures offer panoramic views of the surroundings. Moreover, the form of the treehouses is inspired by local mobula rays that are found in abundance in the region. With these structures, the resort and the architects wanted to celebrate the surrounding natural landscape and its inhabitants.
"The concept for the bamboo treehouse village at Playa Viva evolved from a unique online collaboration between the client and us. Under normal circumstances, we develop our concepts following an immersive workshop onsite with the client, consultants and stakeholders, during which we draw our inspiration from the natural surroundings, and experience and analyse the local environmental conditions. However, for Playa Viva, the COVID travel ban made this impossible. We adapted our approach to overcome the challenge, and for this project, it was the client who provided the required inspiration and site information. He envisioned a concept inspired by a drone video of a squadron of mobula rays migrating in the ocean right in front of the property. We collaborated closely with the developers via a series of video conference calls to propose a vision of a village of ray inspired treehouses, to complement the existing treehouse structures,” mentions Olav Bruin, Creative Director, Atelier Nomadic.
The design of the bamboo treehouses offered Atelier Nomadic an opportunity to develop a cutting edge structure in a surreal location without compromising their environmental ethos. The resort wants to set an example of how luxury tourism should develop in the future. Positive environmental and social impact is integral to the Playa Viva experience. It is run 100 per cent off grid and is completely solar powered. The property is entirely built from natural local materials. In addition, the resort supports healthcare and educational programs for the local community, and works on the regeneration of degraded land in the surroundings.
These mobula ray treehouses were built using bioclimatic design principles to suit the natural environment. For instance, the eaves of the roof function like a large umbrella, offering shade from the sun and protection from heavy rains. The façade louvres allow for natural cross ventilation. Furthermore, the structures were primarily constructed using local bamboo, which is one of the fastest growing renewable building materials in the world. The treehouses exhibit the versatility and adaptability of bamboo in construction. The main structures and the roofs are made of sturdy Guadua bamboo poles, the façade louvres comprise section strips of bamboo and the ceilings feature flattened bamboo panels. The wall and façade panels in the annex treehouse comprise Phyllostachys aurea bamboo poles and the flooring features sustainably grown local Cumaru timber.
"Playa Viva offers the rugged, unspoiled beauty of Mexico in the guilt-free luxury of an environmentally conscious resort dedicated to sustainability and regenerative practices. The resort also founded and supports the La Tortuga Viva turtle sanctuary. Playa Viva provides a vacation experience that is in integrity with the highest aspirational values for how life should be lived,” adds Bruin.
The aim of the design of the Playa Viva treehouses was to align with the expected post COVID travellers' desire to stay in one-of-a-kind accommodation immersed in the natural environment. These structures blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors and offer guests a chance to be one with nature. “Sleeping in the mobula ray treehouse is a liberating personal experience,” adds Louis Thompson, CEO of Nomadic Resorts (Atelier Nomadic’s sister company). “After months of isolation and lockdowns, guests can connect with their environment once more. They can listen to the sound of the waves, feel the breeze sway through the palm leaves and taste the salt air, unmasked, as they lounge on the hammock suspended over the beach, staring at the stars. This is beyond wellness, its catharsis.”
Name: Bamboo Tree House Village
Client: Playa Viva
Architect: Atelier Nomadic
Design team: Olav Bruin, with Louis Thompson, Luca Fiammetta, Maddalena Losindaco
Bamboo design & construction consultant: Jorg Stamm
Site Architect: Roger Martinez
Landscape regeneration design: Bill Reed and Regenesis Group
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