La ventana is about utilizing the means within reach (in this case steel containers) and transforming them into elements belonging to the natural site. Activity wise, the project doesn’t look for changing the preexisting lifestyle, on the contrary, La Ventana adequate itself to the site, providing space and freedom, allowing the user to live the building accordingly its needs.
There is a place in Baja California Sur, Mexico, called La Ventana. Due to its unique climatic and geographic qualities, people all over the world go there to practice kitesurf. Placed in the Gulf of Cortés, La Ventana offers the opportunity to practice the sport almost all year around. Thus, the assignment for this project: to change and extend the program of the complex that already exists in the site that accommodate the visitors, using as the main construction material -and this is important- ship containers. As sportsmen ourselves, who have been to La Ventana several times to practice this same sport, we were thrilled to be chosen for the project of this particular design.
Now, there are more aspects you should know to understand why the use of containers was such a big deal: La Ventana is not an ordinary beach, it integrates plants and sand which results in a very consistent color palette of dim green and beige tones (that are typically of a desert) with the bright blue of the ocean. Thanks to its topographical characteristics, La Ventana also has two very different landscapes; in one side it has a mountain (covered with all kinds of cactus, but a mountain nevertheless) and in the other side, the ocean with the Cerralvo Island to add dynamism to the view.
The steel of the containers by itself in this scenery and in this atmosphere, wouldn’t do, but knowing for a fact that the client himself would be able to provide the containers and considering our own personal interest to recycle and to implement any material or technique that would lessen human’s negative impact on earth, we decided to adequate the containers to the scene and the extreme temperatures of the site we looked back to the traditional constructive knowledge of Baja California.
Due to the extreme temperatures in the place, the ship containers needed to be thermally insulated. We decided to use panels of reed and rammed earth in the exterior walls, protecting the interior from the sun and the wind, achieving a comfortable temperature for the user to enjoy. Each of the containers roofs has gravel with an endemic garden, which improves the insulation factor.
The reed, the rammed earth and the gardens also serve another purpose: to integrate the project to the landscape and thus avoid having any kind of leading role, color palette or material wise.
The main floor is accessed by a narrow hallway delimitated by three leveled walls, accenting the transition in the user. As the project has multifunctional spaces, once inside of the complex, the users have the liberty to interact between the building and the beach as they please. The only program defined in this floor is the restaurant, a couple of stores and the kitesurf school.
The upper levels contain hotel rooms. We decided to visually separate the program (public and private) by only using rammed earth in the main level and only reed panels in the upper ones. This also was coherent to our idea of designing a building that belonged to its placement, using rammed earth in the main floor allowed us to make the complex looked like it emerged from the ground.
The hotel rooms are oriented to make the most of the views that La Ventana offers, by alternating containers, we guaranteed both views to each room: the mountain and the ocean.
The result of this project is a warm modulated building with an intermittent sequence of interior and exterior spaces, always in direct interaction with its placement.