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Balneario Bacalar

Colectivo C733

Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

January 2023


Gabriela Carrillo (Partner), José Amozurrutia (Partner)


Fernando Rodríguez (Design Team), Oscar Trejo (Structural Design), SPL, Riparia (Electrical and mechanical engineering), Taller Nuevos Territorios (Bioremediation Strategies and Landscape), ILWT (Lighting design


SEDATU - Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development Secretary. Municipality of Bacalar, Quintana Roo


Rafael Gamo


It stands as a public space offering free recreation for both locals and tourists. This project reimagines the landscape, utilizing stepped walls of limestone to absorb elevation changes, creating viewpoints from the street to the lagoon. The stepped design not only provides scenic vistas but also establishes a resilient landscape. These terraces aid in rehydrating the territory, mimicking the natural action of the original mangroves along the lagoon's edges. Additionally, they serve as rain gardens, acting as natural filters for cleaner water entering the lagoon. The intervention prioritized breaking boundaries, replacing the existing wall with terraced viewpoints, blurring the line between street and the complex. The project emphasizes a water-centric approach, capturing, treating, recycling, and reusing water, with a natural pool designed to mitigate the lagoon's intensive use by bathers. Two key structures embody the complex's program. The first is a multipurpose palapa, a craftwork showcase of palm weaving and chicozapote wood, combining vernacular architecture with contemporary technology. The second comprises three piers, each with a distinct purpose: supplying boats with tourist services, providing a contemplation space, and offering a recreational area. This transformation of Bacalar Baths into a public water garden is an exploration to the integration of architecture and landscape, where the built environment seamlessly becomes part of the natural infrastructure.


As part of the Bacalar Master Plan of Sedatu by Colectivo C733, this intervention shares context with five other buildings surrounding the Bacalar Lagoon. The Bacalar Lagoon is not only the largest freshwater bacterial reef globally but also home to rare living stromatolites, representing an invaluable evolutionary treasure. Moreover, it stands as the last remaining mangrove remnant along the shores of Bacalar town, symbolizing a critical ecological asset amidst urban sprawl. The delicate balance of this ecosystem faces significant threats from urban expansion, underscoring the urgent need for conservation efforts. The preservation of the Bacalar Lagoon and its surrounding mangroves is essential not only for its ecological significance but also for its cultural and recreational value to the local community and visitors alike.


The transformation of Balneario Bacalar into a public water garden represents an innovative integration of architecture and landscape, where the built environment harmoniously merges with the natural infrastructure. Serving as a multifunctional public space on the edge of the Laguna de Bacalar, it caters to both locals and tourists alike, offering a diverse array of activities and experiences. This project also fosters a deeper connection with nature among its visitors. By seamlessly blending architectural elements with the surrounding landscape, the water garden creates a tranquil oasis where people can gather, relax, and engage in various recreational pursuits. Its accessibility to both locals and tourists ensures that it serves as a vibrant hub for community interaction and cultural exchange. Whether it's enjoying a leisurely stroll along the water's edge or participating in organized events and activities, the public water garden of Balneario Bacalar offers something for everyone, enriching the lives of those who experience its spatiality.

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