Master plan and architectural design of an Ecolodge in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, for SEMARNAT (Ministry of the Environment), CONANP (National Commission for Protected Areas), FONATUR and UNDP (United Nations Development Program).
This is the first ecolodge designed according to international ecotourism standards to be carried out in a Mexican natural protected area. Bidding process for construction and operation of the ecolodge should soon be open.
Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Quintana Roo (145 km south of Cancún): northern coastal zone.
Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales -SEMARNAT (Mexican Ministry of the Environment), Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas -CONANP (National Commission for Protected Natural Areas), Fondo Nacional de Fomento al Turismo -FONATUR (National Fund for teh Promotion of Tourism), United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Main objective of the project:
That the ecolodge constitute a self-financing mechanism for the Federal authorities in charge of conserving the natural environment and protected areas: SEMNARNAT and CONANP. The ecolodge should contribute to alleviate the serious budgetary restrictions of these institutions, since a part of the revenue generated by the operation of the ecolodge will be channelled to CONANP. Another relevant objective is that the ecolodge produce tangible socio-economic benefits to the local communities.
Basic principle of the project:
To achieve a harmonious integration with the natural and cultural environment. The design of the ecolodge is based on characteristics of the natural milieu, respecting native vegetation and wildlife, soil (including dunes, which are particularly fragile), beaches, and adjacent sea (including coral reefs). Ecodesign criteria have been applied, so that the ecolodge seemingly sprouts naturally from the environment, by utilizing organic forms, based on traditional local materials. Building materials include: timber, thatch, native grass, and ‘zascab’ (local limestone).
• Use of solar energy (for heating water and photovoltaic generation of electrictity)
• Ecological waste treatment
• Water harvesting and recycling
• Use of local building and decorative materials
• Natural cross ventilation (instead of air conditioning)
• Cyclones and strong winds taken into account
Architectural program of the ecolodge
• 20 ecological cabins (each with an area of approx. 100 m2) in a 1st Phase, growing to 30 in a 2nd Phase (in a minimum period of 3 years) and to a maximum of 40 cabins in a 3rd Phase (in a minimum period of 6 years), prior authorization by CONANP
• Lobby-reception-bar area
• Restaurant (for 100 persons) with kitchen and pantry
• Spiral staircase and look-out point (22 m high)
• Swimming pool and jacuzzi
• Temascal (pre-Hispanic steam bath)
• Boutique for selling hand crafts, books, diverse products
• Library and reading area (natural and cultural subjects)
• Management offices
• Outdoor areas with native vegetation (avoiding exotic species)
• Interpretative nature trails (with unobtrusive sign posting)
• Scuba diving and snorkeling shop
• Guest parking area (space for 19 cars)
• Staff and service parking area (space for 6 cars)
• Machine room (including solar energy equipment)
• Elevated tank
• Anaerobic bio-septic tanks
• Staff living quarters (8 cabins)
• Staff dining room
Site with an area of approx. 12 hectares, located on the northern coastal zone of the Reserve (between El Arco and Punta Allen), with beach and coral reef on the eastern side and interior mangrove lagoon on the western side.
SITE PLAN (PARTIAL)
SECTION RECEPTION AREA
GENERAL ELEVATIONS AND SECTION
FOUNDATION AND STRUCTURAL PLANS RESTAURANT (DETAIL)
• Each one of the guest cabins has a 75 watt photovoltaic module measuring 1.50 x 0.50 m, generating an electrical power of 200-300 watts. Photovoltaic panels are placed on the roofs (timber structure with grass), placed at an angle of approx. 20° orientated towards the south, for maximum insolation. Motorcar-type 12 volt batteries are used.
• For heating water, each cabin has two solar collectors measuring 1.50 x 1.00 m, framed with black-colored calibre 18 sheet steel (painted black for greater solar absorption) and ½”copper piping coil. A thermotank with capacity of 230 liters (measuring 0.90 m long with a diameter of 0.57 m) is provided. Inclination is likewise 20° with a southerly orientation.
• For each group of two cabins, a prefabricated anaerobic bioseptic (enzymatic) tank is provided (15-person model).
SOLAR COLLECTORS (DETAILS)
AERIAL VIEW FROM THE NORTHEAST
AERIAL VIEW CABINS SECTOR