The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza, a Mayan settlement in Mexico, was the location of this competition. The challenge was to plan a lodge that would house a small number of travelers and a museum while respecting and preserving this important site. The exact location we chose for the lodge is an Amalgam of the site and culture. Chichen Itza means ‘at the mouth of the well of Itza’. In the great flatland of Yucatan dramatic wells called ‘cenote’ where central to the Mayan culture of this area, being a major source of water they became the site of many religious ceremonies, most commonly sacrifices to the rain god. We decided to locate our lodge at the mouth of the well. The fourfold model of the Mayan universe has been preserved with the division of the hotel into 4 different levels:

-1st level – Lodge Public Space – (administration, lobby, restaurant, kitchen) – Earth level along an existing path. Providing a panoramic view of the citadel amongst the trees.

-2nd level – Lodge Bedrooms –above the cenote, facing east as if every Morning at dawn the tourists are greeted by the great sun king: Kinh

-3rd level – Museum – distanced from the cenote surrounded by green, a panoramic view of the forest.

-4th level – Lookout –facing the archeological buildings of the citadel: Kukulcan’s Pyramid from north and the Osario from west.

Adherence to Competition Objectives:

• ‘Archaeological consciousness’- the lodge, in Glen Murcutt’s words, ‘Touch(es) the earth lightly’. Respecting the natural landscape, it rests on the ground with minimal disturbance to nature never competing with the citadels presence.

The lodge emphasizes the geography of the cenote highlighting its importance in the Mayan culture.

• ‘Harmonious geographic reality’, ‘enjoyment of the context before the enjoyment of the infrastructure’- the lodge does not impose itself on the site, it sits on stilts allowing unobstructed flow of nature and visitors beneath and through it. Its horizontal orientation keeps the height of the structure just beneath the trees camouflaging it with the rain forest, not calling attention to itself. The lookout point is the only part of the complex that rises above the trees providing a breathtaking view of the endless planes.

• ‘Minimal ecological impact’ – the lodge’s morphology follows nature. Natural ventilation is utilized in all its enclosed spaces. Walls are made of wooden slabs acting as shutters that filter the sunlight and wind. Natural sunlight penetrates through the walls providing sufficient light during the daytime. The lodge’s roofs, standing in direct sunlight, serve as crop fields and can be fitted with solar panels.

Year: 2007
Team: Heidi Arad, Tsipi Yavets-Chen, Sharon Karlinsky

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