Anera – Playa Blanca

El proyecto se localiza en las costas de Guerrero y consiste en el desarrollo de 20 unidades de vivienda dentro de un terreno plano de 100 x 100 m, 1 hec. Este terreno, al igual que la mayoría en la costa de Playa Blanca, presenta características similares: pendientes regulares o casi nulas y una vegetación que, debido a los distintos usos agrícolas o de vivienda que ha tenido la zona, ha ido cambiando y es hoy muy distinta a lo que fue en el pasado.

 

Playa Blanca es un corredor en vías de desarrollo que comienza en Zihuatanejo y termina en la Barra de Potosí. Esta playa, que lleva siendo habitada ya por varios años, hoy es el punto de destino que sigue tras el crecimiento de Ixtapa y de Zihuatanejo, lugares turísticos de gran historia y belleza y de grandes desarrollos arquitectónicos que se han vuelto arquetipos de los destinos tradicionales de playa.

 

Hoy vemos que este tipo de desarrollos abundan en las playas del país y serán los que moldearán el urbanismo en nuestras costas. Para este proyecto, nos dimos a la tarea de estructurar la propuesta con base en tres premisas que nos permitieran analizar críticamente la tipología en cuestión y así buscar una propuesta fresca que propone una nueva manera de abordar un proyecto de playa con características similares.

 

Relación con el sitio

La primera de estas premisas es la del respeto máximo al sitio, buscando regresar el lugar a un estado de naturaleza óptima a través de una arquitectura regenerativa en donde la manera de trabajar con la ubicación de los distintos elementos que componen el programa y su interacción con el terreno se vuelve primordial.

 

Urbanismo

La segunda es analizar los esquemas urbanos o de desplante que se han usado a lo largo de los años en proyectos similares y buscar entender cómo podemos cambiar ese urbanismo aislado por esquemas preocupados por el contexto inmediato y, en general, por el crecimiento y desarrollo de la zona, en donde la atención por el contexto no hace nada más que agregar valor a los desarrollos en cuestión.

 

Arquitectura

La tercera consiste en aprender de la arquitectura vernácula y contemporánea de la zona, que representa tantos años de saberes y experiencia y que suele tener una funcionalidad inigualable, e interpretar sus valores y herramientas para integrarlos en una arquitectura de playa que hoy requiere de nuevos esquemas y tipologías.

 

 

Sitio

El estado de Guerrero está ubicado en la región suroeste del país; limita al norte con el Estado de México, Morelos y Puebla; al sureste con Oaxaca, al suroeste con el océano Pacífico y al noroeste con el río Balsas, que lo separa de Michoacán. La geomorfología del estado es una de las más accidentadas y complejas de México; su relieve es atravesado por la Sierra Madre del Sur y las Sierras del Norte. Más del 60 % de la superficie estatal disfruta de clima cálido subhúmedo con precipitaciones en verano. El segundo lugar lo ocupa el clima semicálido con lluvias en verano.

 

El turismo es la actividad que más recursos deja al estado, pues aporta gran parte del PIB total del estado y emplea a miles de personas. Durante 2016, 11.5 millones de turistas visitaron Guerrero. Históricamente, los centros turísticos guerrerenses han sido muy visitados por los habitantes de la Ciudad de México debido a su cercanía; sin embargo, el turismo internacional también es relevante en la zona y Acapulco es el primer destino turístico con el que México se dio a conocer en el mundo.

 

Tras el éxito turístico que significó a nivel mundial el puerto de Acapulco en la década de 1950, el Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo planificó en 1968 la creación de un nuevo destino de lujo en la costa del Pacífico. Edificado sobre lo que en alguna época fue un plantío de cocos, Ixtapa Zihuatanejo comenzó a operar formalmente en 1974, llegando a recibir en los últimos años más de 2 millones de turistas anualmente.

 

A 25 km al sur de Zihuatanejo y con una extensión de 7 km al norte de la costa de Barra de Potosí se encuentra Playa Blanca, una zona turística en desarrollo que representa uno de los mejores destinos costeros de la zona. Esta playa recibe su nombre del característico color claro de su arena. Con intensos oleajes y un paisaje dominado por palmeras y algunas salientes rocosas, esta zona costera a mar abierto se ha convertido en una alternativa para disfrutar del paradisíaco paraje con un ambiente más relajado que el de la exitosa zona turística de Ixtapa Zihuatanejo.

 

El entorno natural de Playa Blanca es de enorme interés ecoturístico, porque es una de las áreas de mayor diversidad biológica en México, hábitat de 212 especies de aves silvestres ––unas nativas y otras migratorias–– de las cuales 19 se encuentran en riesgo de extinción, como es el caso de los pelícanos blancos, flamingos y garzas azules.

 

Otro de los elementos característicos de Playa Blanca es la Laguna de Potosí, un cuerpo de agua tranquila, limpia y transparente que corre en paralelo a la costa. Durante la época de lluvias sucede un fenómeno muy interesante, cuando el nivel de agua de la laguna sube y la barra que normalmente la separa de la bahía se abre, para cerrarse nuevamente una vez que las lluvias pasan.

 

De las 1,800 hectáreas que ocupa la Laguna de Potosí, 454 son de manglar, por lo que en 2009 la Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) la incorporó como Sitio de Manglar con Relevancia Biológica y con necesidades de rehabilitación ecológica, además de ser considerada Área de Importancia para la Conservación de las Aves (AICA).

 

Cerca de la zona se encuentran diferentes atracciones ecoturísticas como áreas de conservación ecológica y parques refugio de aves, cocodrilos y tortugas. En el extremo sur de la bahía se encuentra un pequeño pueblo de pescadores llamado Barra de Potosí; sus habitantes ofrecen a los visitantes servicios de comida y paseos en sus lanchas y kayaks por la laguna, y por ello son los más interesados en conservar este lugar. Es en este tipo de poblados en donde encontramos ejemplos de arquitectura vernácula de la que retomamos algunos elementos para potenciar la integración de nuestra propuesta arquitectónica.

 

 

Proyecto

Entendiendo la arquitectura de la zona, en donde se vive primordialmente en las sombras y los exteriores techados, imaginamos habitar terrazas perdidas entre la vegetación. Terrazas que se convierten en edificios de departamentos.

 

Las estrategias que implementamos en nuestro proceso de diseño partieron de la subdivisión del terreno en siete frentes iguales de 12 m, más 16 m restantes para colindancias y separaciones entre volúmenes.

 

El desplante, la permeabilidad, el paisaje, las vistas y el habitar en terrazas cubiertas son las cinco herramientas de diseño que nos permitieron aterrizar las ideas en una propuesta congruente.

 

A través del desplante desfasado de cinco volúmenes separados que contienen las 20 unidades de vivienda, logramos borrar el esquema centralizado en «U» o «V» en donde la única vivencia y vista son centrales y monótonas. En cambio, buscamos relacionarnos con la totalidad del terreno y el contexto inmediato, generando una permeabilidad continua en todo el proyecto y unas vistas profundas que cambian en cada una de las distintas posiciones del terreno.

 

Cada uno de los edificios se encuentra elevado 1.5 m de altura sobre el terreno original y bordeado por taludes de vegetación que permiten borrar la relación directa entre los usuarios que circulan el terreno y las terrazas de los primeros niveles. Esta elevación, junto con la cimentación, genera el espacio para las bodegas y cuartos de máquinas de los edificios y departamentos.

 

El diseño del paisaje da lugar a los caminos que circulan entre jardines y ligan el conjunto, conectando así cada edificio con las áreas comunes y haciendo sentir el aprovechamiento de las áreas libres a lo largo de todo el terreno.

 

Cada edificio está compuesto por losas de concreto aligerado que son cargadas por los núcleos de circulaciones y servicios. Estos elementos están ubicados estratégicamente para que tengan esta triple función: estructural, programática y que por último sirvan para bloquear vistas estratégicas y dotar de privacidad a los edificios vecinos.

 

Las villas se acomodan en una sola planta y el sentido corto de cada edificio y departamento es el mismo; su crecimiento se va dando orgánicamente en el sentido largo para dar lugar a las variaciones en programa y metros cuadrados de cada tipología.

 

Las azoteas son plataformas compartidas entre cada edificio y se convierten en espacios contemplativos que funcionan como un escape y una extensión del espacio público del conjunto.

 

IUA Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos en colaboración con THB Taller Héctor Barroso

Playa Blanca, Guerrero, 2021

1 ha

Passive House

Seignosse is located in the southwest of France, on the Côte d’Argent, a region known for its landscapes, its mild climate and the richness of its terroir. The project must be considered on this small-scale level as well as in terms of its broader history and its geography.

The Landes region has long been a sparsely populated area because it was hostile to humans. Until the 18th century it was a vast, inaccessible swamp, where local shepherds moved on stilts both to keep their feet out of the water and to watch their herd from afar. It is called the flat country because of the near-lack of topographical features, a characteristic explained by its geology.

The ground is formed by a shallow limestone plateau covered by sediment. The rock layer is impermeable, so rainwater flows very slowly to the ocean, forming these wetlands as a result. To overcome this, during the Age of Enlightenment the French state decided to manage the territory by planting suitable trees, initially cork oaks for use in the corking industry. This tree, which has a strong presence in the region, is of particular interest to us for the project.

A larger-scale program of land management was later embarked on through the planting of maritime pines and the establishment of the “dune cordon” all along the Atlantic coast in order to protect the forest from the ocean. It is the largest pine forest in Europe, as can be felt it in the perfect alignment of trees in this continuous man-made landscape.

This situation has developed some examples of vernacular architecture: half-timbered houses with pronounced eaves and a masonry plinth that responds to the climate of the region. Also, the huts of the gemmeurs, the people in charge of collecting resin from the pines, whose homes were made of large pine boards covered with resin to protect them.

We drew clear ideas from this analysis that formed the basis of our reflection and the design of the project.

The first step is to climb up to protect yourself from the water and to see further: think of a project on stilts.

From the positioning of the pines we retain a grid pattern, a consistency of design that allows the project to be punctuated in plan as well as in section, by the repetition of vertical elements reminiscent of the slenderness of the pine trunks.

We understand the characteristics of the climate by sheltering the façades with overhanging roofs, because there’s necessary to protect from both the rain and the sun that come and go with the wind. Build simple constructions, in harmony with the landscape.

We understand the entire site as part of a whole, a holistic vision of architecture which is entirely the result of its situation.

Starting with the landscape

We think of this project as an inhabited garden, a fusion between nature and architecture, which breaks down the boundaries between interior and exterior. A plot that can be used in its entirety, living according to the light and the seasons. Build a smart home that is easy to activate and requires little maintenance. A place that challenges preconceived ideas. We analyzed the plot under four sequences, each corresponding to a purpose: to use, to live, to enjoy, to watch.

The program is very clear, and defines a number of volumes that have special relationships between each other. The treatment of the landscape must unify the whole.

Construction then began to take shape: the independent guest house, the garage with its carport, the main house and its covered terraces, the swimming pool with its summer kitchen and finally the studio to the rear of the garden. They are judiciously distributed across the site according to their uses and orientation. Everything is connected by raised terraces, either covered or open air.

The Local Urban Plan imposes a built-up area of 30%, a setback from the street and neighbors, maximum heights, and raising the floor level by 30cm compared to the natural terrain. We have integrated these constraints into the project as assets in order to make it more discreet and to limit the inconveniences of the street as well as of the neighboring buildings.

The rectilinear hedge along the façade is maintained as a cultural relic: behind it grows a lush garden, made up of local species such as maritime pine and umbrella pine, holm oak and cork oak, broom and gorse, species that require little maintenance and consume little water. It is about creating a specific universe that evolves throughout the year, with large ferns that give it a tropical appearance while respecting endemic species. A nurturing landscape with several areas dedicated to the vegetable garden.

All the existing trees are preserved, while new ones are planted between the constructions, such as deciduous trees close to the façades in order to protect them in summer and let through light in winter. Much of the project is based on reversible screw foundations. This allows for a minimum impact on the ground and does not damage the roots by creating a refuge underneath for the local fauna. With the idea of a biophilic design, the project is committed to having a low impact on the site.

The project

While designing the project, we focused on the resources already present on site as well as the possibility of using materials from the demolition of the existing house.

Several elements stand out, such as the tiled roof which once came down can be used as coating for the access, a red tone that contrasts with the vegetation and allows vehicles to move around as if playing pétanque.

Part of the masonry can be reused after crushing as concrete rubble needed for the main house. The glazing can be sent to a recycling center to be repurposed as insulation material like that currently used under the slab of the house. The rest of the materials would be donated to recycling associations we regularly work with.

The construction system and the materials used provide the basis for understanding the project. All the building façades are clad in cork, a locally sourced, rot-proof material. The roof line of all the volumes forms a single slope. The corrugated sheet steel roofs evoke the image of surf huts and reflect the surrounding landscape. Rainwater is collected in cisterns in order to water the garden and can potentially be reused for the toilets and washing machine.

The family house is composed of three walls made of low-carbon recycled concrete, and is insulated from the outside with a thick layer of wood fiber. Its southern facade is completely glazed, protected by large eaves which are supported by pre-grayed wooden posts to guarantee stability over time. The annexes are all in wooden framework, raised above the ground with the screw piles. Thanks to the repetition of the elements, much of it can be prefabricated, including the guest house which can be ready for use before the rest.

In order to meet passive house criteria, we have organized all the constructions into rectangular and compact plans. The certification is based only on the main house, which meets all the demands and the PHPP calculation: less than 15 kWh/m2/year, extremely well-insulated, airtight, with a very good double-flow ventilation system and generous, yet controlled solar gain.

We have enhanced comfort in summer thanks to cross-sections that promote natural ventilation, the thermal inertia of the concrete walls and floors which retain coolness, and the implementation of elegant exterior blackout systems on all exposed windows.

We intend this project to be sober and discreet, to be an intelligent, minimalist architecture, both simple and contemporary, where beauty resides as much in the volumes as in the details.

 

IUA Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos in collaboration with a6a y APDA Ana Paula de Alba

Seignosse, France, 2021

306 sqm

Casa en El Torón

El Torón Reserve is located on the coast of Oaxaca, at the southernmost point of the Mexican Pacific coastline and a few kilometers from Mazunte, between Mermejita and Ventanilla beaches. It is a protected 30-hectare area characterized by mixed vegetation and rugged topography, with steep cliffs and hilltops creating hard-to-reach spots and a unique natural beauty.

The House in El Torón is the first to be designed within this reserve, and its conception emerged from two premises that enabled us to question and rethink the idea of a house on the coast. The first was to show maximum respect for the site, and the second was to seek to understand and learn from the vernacular and contemporary architecture of the region, which represents so many years of accumulated wisdom and experience, and tends to offer unmatched functionality.

 

Context

Since the 1970s, architects like Marco Aldaco, Mario Lazo, Diego Villaseñor and José Yturbe presented a ‘new architecture of the sea’ without doors or windows that encouraged a close relationship with nature and at the same time transferred the gestures employed in traditional coastal architecture to large-scale projects: the use of palm roofs, local materials, cross ventilation, light-colored floors, are some of the design strategies that today we take for granted, as well as the knowledge we need to apply to any beach-based design. This makes rethinking coastal habitation difficult: but questioning the principles and its future is a task that falls to our generations, which must seek balance in development and evolution, while considering the interaction between the global and the local.

In a few months in 2020 we witnessed uncontrolled growth in the number of developments implemented along the coasts of Mexico. The exploitation of communal or ejido lands and their conversion into private property—for holiday home or weekend house developments—is not something that can be carried out in a healthy and ordered manner in the next few years. That is why it is the responsibility of architects and designers—not to mention the developers—to proceed in a coherent manner. The future of the coast depends on us, and we must ensure that the landscape and its flora and fauna are treated with care and responsibility. It is necessary to implement ideas of architecture and urban design with regenerative aims in mind. This means making sites better places and seeking to preserve their values: not only maintaining their current state but restoring them to what they once were, leaving them in a better condition than we find them today.

Regrettably, we are witnessing a failure of coastal urban design, based on a harmful model of division into micro-lots that seeks the greatest profit but only serves to transform the landscape, damaging the ecology. Instead of seeking to understand these zones, the same model is followed as in urban areas. Meanwhile, the architectural projects are unsuitable, hasty and disconnected from the time and place where they are built.

In light of this, how can we improve the way things are done? What can architecture do to help change this dynamic? What values must future beach house projects embody?

It’s clear that public policies to ensure appropriate land-use planning for these zones must be strengthened. However, where such planning does not yet exist, we believe it is necessary to act in a manner coherent with the context, while thinking about the common good. If we intervene in these spaces it should be with slow, tranquil architecture that takes care of and protects our environment. An architecture that, for once, places the surroundings before the user.

 

The Project

For the House in El Torón we imagined a lightweight architecture that questions the scale, the physical relationship between the building and its surroundings, and the use of a number of elements such as palm roofs. An architecture where we imagined living only on terraces or on a coastal palisade. An architecture that “touched” the site as little as possible and, where it did, that was as careful and respectful as it could be.

The construction employed only local materials; certified tropical wood for the structure, door and window frames, local stone—mostly from the excavation itself—for the foundations and containment walls, and stucco and clay from the local area that require little maintenance. The structural system combined timber and concrete to create frames with 4.8-meter modules bearing lightweight slabs in each of the volumes. These are covered with the chippings from the stonework, endowing them with a thermal quality that, together with the frame design, minimizes the energy required to cool the rooms.

No large machinery was used in the construction process, with all the materials being brought in using an ATV and a trailer, following narrow pre-existing tracks. The perimeter landscape was cordoned off during the works and 80% of the vegetation that was located under the footprint of the buildings was replanted in the immediate surroundings.

The project program is divided into three principal modules, designed separately and independent from each other. The first contains the common areas on the upper floor, and the master bedroom and a studio on the lower floor. The second houses the guest bedrooms, while the third module is a small two-floor volume with two bedrooms on the lower floor and common areas on the upper floor.

After being laid out on the site, these modules were connected by plazas, walkways and open paths to enable fluid circulation around the compound. The plan of the whole complex was the result of this process, and was the final project drawing completed.

Dividing the program this way enabled us to position the different volumes on the site more freely, while working with independent volumes meant we could control the scale of the house, leaving the existing vegetation intact and providing each space with the necessary privacy and unique viewpoints.

The result is a series of intermittent spaces: interiors, exteriors and roofed outdoor spaces that merge with the landscape and enable the architecture to disappear in an ambiguous relationship of natural and artificial within a continuous panorama of unaltered spaces.

 

Mazunte, Oaxaca, 2020

850 sqm

Photographs: Onnis Luque