Elemental Harmony: The Village by Sordo Madaleno

Mexican practice Sordo Madaleno treads lightly on a site blessed with natural beauty and cultural significance with The Village

Words Sordo Madaleno
Images Óscar Caballero for Sordo Madaleno
Editing The Kanto team

Envisioned by Mexico-based architecture firm Sordo Madaleno, The Village is an integral part of a residential masterplan for a site of exceptional natural beauty on the north-eastern Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. The masterplan is carefully designed to respond to the remarkable characteristics of the region: rich vegetation, diverse wildlife, and distinctive climate, all while acknowledging the area’s cultural significance as the home of Mayan monuments.

“The Village delves into themes that have been integral to our body of work over many years. For instance, the distinctive nature of site-specific data in each project serves as a continuous wellspring of inspiration, guiding and shaping our design process. The ultimate goal is to achieve a singular, fully adapted project harmoniously integrated into its unique surroundings,” shares Fernando Sordo Madaleno De Haro, Sordo Madaleno partner.

“The programmatic distribution for the masterplan was planned with the intention of making the most of the property, but without losing the importance of respecting its natural context. It was considered to allocate 45% of the land as a free area, creating exterior and common spaces for users to enjoy experiences and amenities in support of community development,” furthers Sordo Madaleno principal Javier Sordo Madaleno via the firm’s website.

Rigorous design principles and flexible adaptability meet in The Village. The interplay of these elements is evident in the composition of the initial 14,885 square meter apartment block, where a staggered form subtly alludes to the stepped pyramids of the region’s ancient history. Inspired by low-rise structures, this design ensures uninterrupted views across the landscape, extending towards the Caribbean Sea.

Buildings come with a maximum height of 12 meters, spanning up to five (5) floors. This deliberate choice maintains a human scale, allowing residents on the upper floors to experience proximity to the surrounding treetops.

Apartments are meticulously planned on a four-meter by four-meter (4m x 4m) grid, offering floor areas ranging from 80 to 160 square meters. The modular design allows for various configurations in terms of apartment type and size and the external arrangement of terraces.

“We are continually fascinated by the interconnection of systems and adaptability. A basic module, such as a 4×4 cube, has the potential to generate quality spaces. The overall design engages in a balance between an intimate scale, akin to a small village, and the complexities of a dense project,” Fernando adds.

The firm’s approach to breaking down the overall volume of the building involves setting back terraces at irregular intervals and across different levels. This deliberate design choice enhances the permeability of the essentially rectilinear structure, allowing it to be seamlessly integrated into the surrounding nature. The studied informality of this approach invokes the concept of an overgrown ruin, further emphasized by the thoughtful placement of terraces, introducing a timeless quality to the architecture.

The terraces are not only designed for aesthetic appeal; they serve a practical purpose. Equipped with planters, they enable self-sustainable cultivation of vegetable gardens, with 80% of the plantings being native species. In addition to these green spaces are shared public spaces comprising nearly half of the site. Together these spaces promote wellness, recreation, and sports, fostering a sense of community and bringing the building to life. •

Project Information

Location: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Client: Origina
Built size: 14,885 square meters/13% built
In development: 27,460 square meters
Subsequent stages: 76, 285 square meters
Total size: 120, 285 square meters
Project completion: 2022

Project Team

Partners: Javier Sordo Madaleno Bringas,
Javier Sordo Madaleno de Haro, Fernando Sordo Madaleno de Haro
Architecture director: Luis Hernández
Design team: Alejandro Olivier, Javier Páez,
Antonio Urrutia, Raymundo Baldovinos
Structural engineering: Jean Ingenieros
MEP engineering: MC Ingenieros
Lighting consultant: Ocho 45
Landscape consultant: Gabayet 101 paisaje


Best Of Year 2023, by Interior Design Magazine:
Winner in the Multi-Unit Residential category
Architecture MasterPrize 2023:
Winner in the Architectural Design – Residential Architecture, Multi-Unit category
World Architecture Festival (WAF) Awards 2023:
Finalist in the Housing category
Createurs Design Awards 2023:
Longlisted in Best Residential Project in Architecture category

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