Casa Xixim

Tulum, Mexico


This villa hotel, on a narrow lot fronting a protected bay in Tulum, Mexico, is designed to be fully self-sufficient, and to work in concert with its unique site. A path leads from a mangrove marsh, through a palm grove, into a main living space that can be fully opened. The path then continues to the beach beyond. The distinction between interior and exterior dissolves, and house and site merge to become part of one continuous experience.

The upper bedrooms of the house open onto a series of terraces, both planted and habitable. The upper roof is a lounge shaded by an overhead solar array. These elevated viewpoints provide another way to experience the surrounding environment.

The house is fully self-sufficient, with photovoltaic power generation; on-site waste processing via tank digesters and an artificial wetland; and rainwater collection, storage, and pressurization systems. Passive systems are also used, with louvered doors to capture breezes, and planted roof areas to mitigate stormwater flow.

Materials used in the house were all locally-sourced, including louvered wood sliding doors, and hand-painted “pasta tiles”. Tulum-based craftsmanship is emphasized, with intricate stonework for selected walls, and site-built furnishings throughout.

Architect: Specht Harpman
Interior Design: Matthew Finalson
Photography: Taggart Sorensen

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