The Carmen Hotel by sanzpont, a project inspired by the coral in the Caribbean Sea

Sanzpont Arquitectura,

Santiago Heyser Photography Architectural, Interior & Hotels,

Playa del Carmen,


The coronavirus pandemic is impacting our day-to-day lives, but we can still dream about travelling. The Carmen Hotel by sanzpont arquitectura in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Yucatan state, Mexico is exotic, sustainable and state-of-the-art, and it’s all inspired by the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea.

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The Carmen Hotel by sanzpont, a project inspired by the coral in the Caribbean Sea The Carmen Hotel by the Mexican architects from sanzpont arquitectura stands on one of the most heavenly beaches of the Caribbean Sea in Playa del Cármen, Quintana Roo. Playa del Carmen is a popular tourist spot on the so-called Riviera Maya, 70 km south of Cancún in Yucatan state. Until the 1960s a small fishing village, mainly known for the ferry that leaves from here for the island of Cozumel, Playa del Carmen went through a tourist boom from the 1990s. This trend continues to this day, and it requires the construction of new accommodation facilities, including the hotel in question.
The Carmen Hotel is located in a unique position on the seashore. This fact greatly influenced the architecture project, with a particular focus on sustainability, due to the climate and the location, to protect the basis of the tourist economy.
For the volume, the architects from sanzpont went for a modular structure, using a construction system based on frames, for simple, cost-effective completion. The architects used high-performance prefabricated panels for thermal insulation and acoustic comfort, assuring low energy consumption and comfortable interiors for guests. 
The rectangular site posed its own challenge - the short end of the rectangle overlooks the sea while the longer side faces onto the street. The proposal by sanzpont involved rotating the building 30 degrees to give all the rooms an ocean view. The architects developed the hotel across three levels of rooms, in addition to a basement level with utilities, a ground floor with the reception and a restaurant, and an infinity rooftop pool on the third level.
The Carmen Hotel incorporates a series of passive design solutions to reduce the building’s environmental impact. The architects went with insulation materials that prevent solar gain, and also integrated triple-glazing filled with argon gas that has very low thermal conductivity. These options help to obtain a fully insulated system when air-conditioning is required. At the same time, the highly efficient use of cross-ventilation of natural air minimizes air-conditioning consumption. Knowing that the prevailing winds in the Caribbean come from the southeast and east, the team decided to turn the rooms 30 degrees to capture the wind and extract it through a duct in the corridor ceiling, creating natural ventilation in each space. Besides, every room in the hotel is fitted with motion detectors and door-and-window opening sensors to avoid wasting energy.
The architects analyzed the movement and angles of the sun with solar geometry, which allowed them to implement effective architectural shading. They positioned overhangs and lattices to prevent direct sunlight from penetrating into the interiors, and to block the south and west facades.   And everything is based on the idea of the characteristic soft organic shapes of the Caribbean corals, making this hotel also stand out visually from the endless string of beachfront accommodation facilities.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: sanzpont arquitectura
Location: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Year: 2017
Images: Santiago Heyser


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