by Meghna MehtaJan 27, 2020
Finding ways to build sustainably, Mexico-based Co-Lab Design Office has designed Luum Temple - a five-sided bamboo catenary structure. Nestled between dense green canopies, it is a tranquil space that hosts diverse programmes for healing, such as yoga, meditation, workshops and community gatherings. As Luum Temple is accessible only on foot, one has to walk through a native, conserved jungle area to reach the bamboo pavilion. Cool, gentle breeze wafts lazily under the thick canopy of trees, and continues to envelope you as you enter the structure. Its earthy brown palette settles the senses and provides a calm atmosphere, vital for healing and meditation.
The bamboo structure blends with its surroundings in a subtle manner – its design programme sitting softly amid nature to create a distinct, contextual space for the community, a space to introspect, a space to contemplate. Local built features have been imbibed in the design with a careful combination of modern design techniques and local artisanal craftsmanship.
Luum Temple is part of the new residential development called Luum Zama in Tulum, Mexico, also designed by Co-Lab. Owing to Tulum’s rising popularity, most property developers have been looking to expand and build profitable areas there, a lot of whom cleared the dense grove of trees and built over existing regulations. The Luum Zama development, on the other hand, decided to set apart 50 per cent of its eight-hectare area to conserve the existing vegetation, and avoid exhausting the natural resources rapidly. They also implemented a reforestation programme for the region - an intentional restocking for its depleted plant species.
The design is inspired by, and resembles Felix Candela’s catenary reinforced concrete shell work, in its arched bamboo form. The five catenary arches are designed to support each other, coalescing as one single structurally dependent system. This co-existence is symbolic of human’s interdependency, and as a reminder that we can accomplish feats by staying united, and working together.
The flat sections of bamboo were bent on the site itself, and then screwed and strapped together to form one quaint pavilion. Then the bamboo arched beams were interwoven by a structural triangular pattern and further tied by two layers of tightly woven bamboo lattice, interlaced in opposite directions to provide strength and stability to the structure.
The Luum Temple has been designed with parametric software, in close collaboration with engineers and builders who specialise in bamboo forms. This allowed the studio to come up with precise angles and measurements for the pavilion’s design, resulting in added support in various components of construction. Each vault is supported by two footings and a compression ring, like a dome structure.
The main reason why bamboo is deemed as a sustainable material is due to carbon sequesters (a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere) during its quick harvest cycle. Another virtue is bamboo’s high strength to weight ratio, particularly when joined together. The bamboo employed in the project was sustainably farmed in Chiapas, a neighboring region. Adding on to the sustainable potential of the project, a layer of Zacate (local grass thatch roof) envelopes the exterior of the Luum Temple, a vernacular characteristic of the region. This thatched roof provides protection from rain, and permits the pavilion to naturally withstand the area’s tropical, humid climate.
A great example of sustainable building practices, the Luum Temple incorporates design innovation and crafty engineering with vernacular building elements, brought together by organic materials. The Luum masterplan and temple design portrays appreciation for the natural world and built structures that are peacefully inhabiting a part of it. The project has a green footprint, encourages sustainable development, and is a truly refreshing collaborative effort between architects, engineers, builders, and owners, all of whom share a mutual respect and awe for nature.
Name of the project: Luum Temple
Location: Tulum, Mexico
Area: 250 sqm
Year of completion: 2019
Client: Luum Zama
Architect: CO-LAB Design Office
Design team: Joana Gomes, Joshua Beck, Arturo Garza Espinosa, Rodrigo Arias Lopez, Thalia Velasco, Antonio Quintero, Alberto Avile
Engineering: ING Esteban Morales
Construction: Arquitectura.Mixta (Jaime Peña, Javier Creuheras, Arley Osorno, Farut Varon)