The Public Forum of the small coastal town Felipe Carrillo Puerto represents a community that embraces the ancestral Mayan knowledge of building with natural materials in relation to their environment. The municipality has an exuberant vegetation and its geographical condition, in the middle of a mangrove swamp and a low deciduous forest, makes it one of the last refuges in the world for various species of wood. In the project, the focus is not only on the site, but on the surroundings.
The tradition of transforming wood from woven lamps to structures for buildings with the vines that surround the trees makes it possible for children, women and men to contribute to the local economy, each piece of wood is used in workshops of women artisans for their own use and sale, the craftsmanship in bejuco and wood is highly valued and its development has been boosted. This technique is scaled up to the structures, which come from community organization in ejidos and allow the wood to be certified and thus reduce the impact of construction and transportation.
After research throughout the Quintana Roo region, we agreed with the NOH-BEC Ejido to work together for the construction of the new theater in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. The Ejido is organized and practices an adapted and integral forest management which includes a long term plan of reforestation, pruning, and cutting. The forests of the Ejido Noh-Bec community in Mexico were destroyed after Category 5 Hurricane Dean in 2007, which had enormous consequences for the communities that depend on the ejido’s forests, so the timber industry has been the livelihood for these communities to rebuild.
The construction modules of the new theater are based on the material they could supply and recommend, so the design was adapted to the dimensions and sections available, as we wanted to propose an easily replicable model in the region. The design of the new theater brings back typical elements of the ancient Mayan huts: vernacular dwellings which roofs were made of wooden frames. The project reinterprets and enhances them by using materials from the area and turning the forum into a node that intertwines the center of the town and can be permeated from different points.
It can be completely opened on the preexisting public square, and it can be completely closed adapting it to any cultural event. It is a versatile project to the needs of the community with a heritage of struggle and organization to defend their indigenous origins and their ecosystem. The height of the roof and its wooden structure pattern offers great comfort and a great potential for appropriation. It takes us to the forest of the area. Quintana Roo has the most beautiful wood in the world. The wood industry has a great future. It is necessary to strengthen and promote the wood harvesting system in the region at all scales, so that it allows to link the vegetation, soil, water and communities and see them as a whole.
Location: Av. Benito Juárez 2355, Carrillo Puerto, Q. Roo, México
Design year: 2019
Promoted by: SEDATU
Photography: Andrés Cedillo