Creating a Healthy Relationship between Architecture and the Environment

Designing a building for any purpose comes with a tall order. At the top of the list, a good architect cannot build or design a good structure without understanding the relationship between man-made architecture and the natural environment comprised of vegetation, animals, microorganisms, soils, rocks, atmosphere and natural resources and physical phenomena such as air, water and climate. An expert on the topic, Arturo Amaya, Director and Founder of Dirección Arquitectonica SC, headquartered in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, was welcomed as a guest speaker for the third series of Taylor’s University School of Architecture, Building and Design Speaker Series 2017.

Arturo explained the significance of considering the environment and its surroundings before attempting any development. He began by highlighting that an architect's prerogative is to gain knowledge in various fields in order to understand the consequences detrimental actions may cause on the environment. Failure to consider the environmental surrondings and its ecosystem has devastating consequences, he cautioned. Using Mexico's popular holiday destination Cancún and Tulum as notable examples, he described its wealth of physiognomy like dry and wet caves, dunes, reefs and mangrove swamps.
Initial development of resorts at the prime destination bordering the Caribbean Sea successfully attracted tourists and resulted in healthy economic growth but resulted in the lack of analysis to deal with the environment appropriately. Rampant growth of resorts caused the uprooting of dunes and mangroves to create ideal views of the ocean from the hotel room – which over time, triggered mass erosion of the beach, killing life on the reefs and ironically, deterioration of the resorts. While Cancún remains a popular holiday beach destination, there is now a need for a large-scale cleanup operation to tackle the pervading environmental issues.
Moving to the southern parts of the peninsular to Mayakoba, Arturo shared his involvement in its land development to create a retreat which follows the natural contours of its geography and enhances the environment. Along with his mentor and renowned architect Mario Lazo, a group of biologists, geologists and engineers, the collaboration helped map out ways to create a sustainable community. The area is currently lodging luxury resorts like Banyan Tree, Rosewood Hotel and Fairmont Hotels, with plenty of room to expand. The primary attraction is the low density holiday stay, as well as various room views of the golf course and lagoons, and chalets facing the beach. The success of the development is due to the collaborative work in a multidisciplinary setting to create an ideal outcome to benefit the users and the environment.