Co-Lab Design Office builds Luum Temple, a catenary bamboo yoga pavilion in Tulum

The Luum Temple by Mexican studio, in the jungles of Tulum, merges vernacular architecture with parametric design, offering a space for meditation and workshops.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Nov 15, 2019

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 Luum Temple offers a quaint, natural setting for introspection and reflection | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The Luum Temple offers a quaint, natural setting for introspection and reflection Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • The space hosts diverse healing programmes such as yoga, meditation and community gatherings | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The space hosts diverse healing programmes such as yoga, meditation and community gatherings Image Credit: Cesar-Bejar

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.

It is a five sided catenary structure with sweeping walls of bamboo | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
It is a five-sided catenary structure with sweeping walls of bamboo Image Credit: Cesar-Bejar

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.

  • Arched bamboo beams | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    Arched bamboo beams Image Credit: Cesar-Bejar
  • A tightly woven bamboo lattice offers stability and strength to the pavilion| Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    A tightly woven bamboo lattice offers stability and strength to the pavilion Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office

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 construction of the bamboo structure | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The construction of the bamboo structure Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • The structural bamboo lattice | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The structural bamboo lattice Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • The structure is supported by footings at the base | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The structure is supported by footings at the base Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office

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 five vaults are interlinked to form one single structure | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The five vaults are interlinked to form one single structure Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • Underneath the peaceful Luum Temple | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    Underneath the peaceful Luum Temple Image Credit: Cesar-Bejar

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 layer of Zacate (local grass thatch roof) envelopes the exterior| Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    A layer of Zacate (local grass thatch roof) envelopes the exterior Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • The Luum Temple illuminated at night | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    The Luum Temple illuminated at night Image Credit: Cesar-Bejar

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.

  • Elevation and Cross Section | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    Elevation and Cross Section Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • Plan, Footing and Platform Diagram | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    Plan, Footing and Platform Diagram Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office
  • Petal zoom and Front Elevation | Luum Temple | CO-LAB Design Office | STIRworld
    Petal zoom and Front Elevation Image Credit: Courtesy of Co-lab Design Office

Project Details

Name: 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)

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About Author

Jincy Iype

Jincy Iype

Iype is a trained architect, who often indulges in writing and amateur photography. She was a cinephile and a melophile even before she knew what those words meant. She is inclined towards architecture journalism, and can usually be found curled up reading a book, or cooking for therapeutic relief.

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