House of Fireflies

"Chichen Itza 2008" Landscape Competition

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · House of Fireflies
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

Located in the northern centre of the Yucatán Peninsula, Chichen Itza is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Mayan civilization. In response to the enigmatic and beautiful site, the competition entry is an ecological, respectful, and poetic architectural intervention.

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · House of Fireflies
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

Our design has a monumental lightness. It does not compete with the temple site, but complements it with an appropriate, contemporary structure that is integrated into the surroundings and is ecologically sustainable. The location of the museum lodge is determined by the characteristics of the site; the ceremonial route to the temple compound was coupled with a site grid whose focal and gravitational point is the temple. Conceptually, the project is an inversion of the Mayan form, replacing solids with voids. This geometry is further underlined by floating floor slabs from which one is able to view the landscape. Public and communal areas are arranged at ground level, with rooms and terraces above. At the very top, the restaurant enjoys direct sunlight and the best views of the temple. Circulation is through open staircases that reference the Mayan typology. The form of the building also protects the temple from direct sunlight.

Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd · House of Fireflies
Matteo Cainer Architects Ltd

The building is designed to have a minimal ecological impact. Photovoltaic panels clad the roof, and rainwater collection becomes a sculptural element visible from all levels. At night, suspended illuminated lodge boxes are reminiscent of fireflies in the forest canopy.

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