Playa Viva is an environmentally conscious resort in Juluchuca, Zihuatanejo, Playa Icacos, Mexico. It functions primarily on principles of sustainability and is maintained through regenerative practices. The property generates its power- from 100% solar energy. Atelier Nomadic- a Dutch design practice centered around biophilia, regenerative landscape design, and tactile interiors- designed 6 bamboo houses along the coastline of Mexico as an extension to Playa Viva. 

Bamboo Treehouses at Playa Viva by Atelier Nomadic - Sheet1
Treehouses at Playa Viva_©httpswww.archdaily.com

The treehouses are perched on coconut palms overlooking the surf. The treehouses’ porous facades and large windows create a connection with tropical landscapes, the beach, and the sea. The treehouses display an architecture that values local knowledge and construction techniques with the help of local crafts-persons and material experts. The architects use traditional construction practices and provisional materials, making the structures to be perfectly suited for the tropical climate. 

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TreeHouses Scattered Across the Mexican Beach_©httpswww.archdaily.com

1. Design  

The primary design intention was to match post-covid travelers’ expectations- a healthy and luxurious resort experience amidst the natural environment. After months of staying home during the lockdown, the design was to provide much-needed relief and re-connect with the natural environment: “listen to the sound of the waves, bath in the warm sunset tones, 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” (Mehra, 2022). 

It was from this concept that sprung the idea to build a series of bamboo treehouses strewn across the Mexican coastline. The form of each treehouse is inspired by the ‘flattened, prismatic bodies’ and ‘wing-like fins’ of Mobula Ryas that habitat the resort’s shore. The circulation- staircases- in the treehouses is outdoor, allowing for plenty of connection to the outdoors even while moving about the treehouse. Additionally, each treehouse is designed using bioclimatic design elements to maximize wind flows and humble material to create a natural, breezy ambiance within.

A large circular opening in the master bedroom opens into a view of the ocean and a hammock-like seating. This lends an elevational character to the treehouse, as does the large 2-way sloping roof.  These roofs are painted in bright primary and secondary colours. They add a lively element to the premises with the dance of breezy coconut frond shadows on them. 

The roof is designed as an almost parabolic confluence of members. This gives a twisting appearance to the building. The vertical bamboo poles that form the façade contribute to this illusion by having a slight angle. The opening cut-outs for ventilation along this face, too, are angled. 

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Twisting Facade Appearance Keeping with Roof Profile_©httpswww.archdaily.com

The program for each tree house is staggered at 3 levels: a lavish master bedroom at the front, an annex with the bathroom near the entry level, and a second kids’ bedroom, that doubles up as a lounge, upstairs.  

The pathways to walk around the property are sanded and lined with warm light and pebbles on either side. The warm lighting in the structures, too, at night creates a luxurious atmosphere.  

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Single Unit Planning at Bamboo Treehouses at Playa Viva_©httpswww.archdaily.com

2. Materials/ Construction  

The structures are built from locally sourced bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing renewable materials. This material was selected for construction in keeping with the resort’s climate-friendly philosophy. The designers use this versatile material in numerous ways for this project. The façade is louvered using section strips of bamboo and flattened bamboo panels from the ceiling. The floors are lined with locally grown and sustainable Cumaru timber. The structural framing and roof were constructed with strong poles of Guadua Bamboo. Part of the structures also rests on coconut palms. 

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Structures Resting on Coconut Palms_©httpswww.stirworld.com

The coconut palms were transplanted into pre-determined locations by using permaculture. These support the front of the structures. The roof is constructed as a hyperbolic paraboloid by bamboo maestro Jorg Stamm and a team of local bamboo craftsmen. 

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Hyperbolic Paraboloid with Bamboo in Construction_©httpswww.stirworld.com

The pristine white upholstery compliments the warm material and lighting palette. It allows for angelic, translucent filtering of sunlight. The entire material palette is focused on allowing a natural, rustic feel to create an ambiance.

 3. Sustainability

Most material used in the project is locally sourced to avoid transportation costs and is renewably growable. Moreover, the architects employ passive cooling strategies to maximize shading and airflow through the treehouses. 

  • The roofs are designed with large eaves. These serve as an efficient shading device to protect the indoors from the harsh heat of the sun as well as from the rains.
  • The façade is designed as completely porous with louvers on most sides. This allows for natural cross-ventilation through most of the structure.

The structures are ingeniously designed. They push experimentation boundaries and possibilities of construction with bamboo. Bamboo for façade design and to create paraboloid forms set examples for building technique unlike ever before. The crafted experience allows travellers to get away, be one with nature, bask in the sun, and experience it all in a luxurious and environmentally responsible manner. 

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Elevations of Bamboo Treehouses at Playa Viva_©httpswww.archdaily.com
  • The façade is designed as completely porous with louvres on most sides. This allows for natural cross-ventilation through most of the structure. 
Porosity in Treehouses_©httpswww.archdaily.com

Through design moves like natural ventilation and a natural material palette, the project truly allows its residents to interact with nature and be immersed in the environment. 

References:

Mehra, P. (2022) Atelier Nomadic designs distinctive bamboo treehouses for a luxury resort in Mexico. Available at: https://www.stirworld.com/see-features-atelier-nomadic-designs-distinctive-bamboo-treehouses-for-a-luxury-resort-in-mexico

 (Accessed: 13 November 2022).

Author

Raveena is passionate about design, architectural theory and the climate crisis alike. She aspires to understand and translate designed space- and its experiential qualities- into buildings that make a difference and respect the earth.

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