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Zaha Hadid Architects residential development takes a page from a classic Bradbury tale

Multifamily Housing

Zaha Hadid Architects residential development takes a page from a classic Bradbury tale

The buildings are on an elevated platform and the surrounding walkways are suspended so as not to disturb the surrounding ecosystems.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | May 22, 2017

Rendering courtesy of MIR.

In Ray Bradbury’s classic time travel short story “A Sound of Thunder” a metal path floats six inches above the earth to keep all of the visitors to the past from disturbing the environment and altering the future. For anyone who has read the story, you know how important the path is and how devastating the consequences of straying from it can be.

While it’s not as dramatic as Bradbury’s fictional path and the implications that surround it, a new residential development from Zaha Hadid Architects uses a network of suspended footpaths to keep residents from disturbing the ecosystem. These Bradburian footpaths will connect residents to the surrounding woodland preserve, coast and lagoon.

Alai, located in the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, was designed in response to its natural surroundings. The luxury residential development’s design integrates a new residential community in an area experiencing strong growth while also minimizing the effect of the new buildings on local ecosystems.  The combined footprint of all residential buildings on the site is limited to 7% of the total area to enable existing vegetation to be retained and a majority of the site to be returned to its natural state.


Rendering courtesy of MIR.


A previous owner originally prepared the site for a complex that was never constructed. In an effort to repair the damage done to the ecosystems by this owner, a new onsite botanical nursery will foster the growth of the site’s biodiversity. This nursery will eventually become an attraction and education facility for the development.

In addition to the suspended footpaths, the residential buildings themselves will share an elevated platform with integrated perforations that allow natural light to flood the ground below and enable tropical vegetation to grow upwards through the platform. Amenities for sport, leisure, and wellness are located on the raised platform, which exists nine meters off the ground. This height ensures local wildlife can cross the entire site on the woodland floor without barriers.


Rendering courtesy of MIR.


Each apartment comes with large living areas and bedrooms and private balconies with unobstructed views of the surrounding landscape and Caribbean Sea. Each building was designed to echo the textures and surface complexity associated with the local Mayan masonry and architectural tradition and is supposed to reinterpret local Mayan heritage in a contemporary adaptation.


Rendering courtesy of MIR.


Rendering courtesy of MIR.

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