The Terrestrial Hotel wins the Wallpaper* Design Award 2022
The Hotel Terrestre springs from the rich foliage of Puerto Escondido in Mexico, earthy, strong, almost elemental and at the same time otherworldly. The building, although recently opened, seems to belong to the land, as if it had always been there. This is exactly what its architect, Alberto Kalach, based in Mexico City, wanted: “The buildings are nestled in the landscape, as if they had been there for hundreds of years. A certain ancient but also futuristic feeling characterizes the architecture. 100% solar and energy efficient, it plays with the sun and the wind.
Commissioned for Mexican developer Grupo Habita, the hotel is nestled in the landscape of this idyllic west coast resort region, sharing a beach with neighbors such as Casa Wabi by artist Bosco Sodi by Tadao Ando and the Hotel Escondido by Federico Rivera Rio. All overlook the Pacific Ocean and the mesmerizing blue-green mountains of Oaxaca, bringing together 360 degree views of the sea, jungle and sierra.
A plunge pool in one of the 14 suites at the Terrestrial Hotel, each overlooking the garden, with the Pacific Ocean in the foreground
Indeed, when Grupo Habita co-founder Carlos Couturier first imagined his new outpost in this wealthy part of Mexico, it was this balance between the natural and the somewhat mystical that he had. in mind – his thought process also explains that of the name of the hotel. “Terrestre is not a hotel. It’s a journey. Designed based on the principle of how ‘extraterrestrials’ would imagine life for (terrestrial) humans on the planet,” he says. “As humans, we are obsessed with life in other galaxies, in satellites or distant planets. But, how weird are we (terrestrials) in the eyes of extraterrestrials? Earth and nature are our most valuable assets as human beings. “Terrestrial is a part of this paradise called Earth. Our goal is to preserve and enhance our territory. To rethink well-being.”
Existing sites of the same group include Habita in Mexico City, designed by Enrique Norten and Bernardo Gómez-Pimienta, Habita MTY in Monterrey (Best New Hotel at the 2010 Wallpaper* Design Awards) with interiors by Joseph Dirand Architecture, and The Robey in Chicago, designed by Belgian collaborators Nicolas Schuybroek Architects and Marc Merckx Interiors. Kalach’s other project for Grupo Habita, also in the area, the Kakurega Omakase restaurant, won the Best Hideaway gong at the 2021 Wallpaper* Design Awards. placing visitor experience and a thoughtful approach to luxury at the heart of every program.
A suite at Hotel Terrestre, with a pair of “Ruiseñor” (Mockingbird) chairs in tzalam wood and cotton, designed by Oscar Hagerman and manufactured by Canto Artesanos
Kalach is dedicated to making buildings in harmony with nature and in accordance with the principles of sustainable architecture. His past works, such as the arch-defined Casona Sforza in the same area, and a private house in Valle de Bravo (W* May 2020), showcase this well, using natural materials and minimizing consumption. of energy. He designed Terrestre in the same spirit, using a range of eco-strategies. There is passive cooling, solar panels and locally sourced materials, and it’s all engulfed in native planting, such as copales, burseras (palo mulato), mesquites, thevetia, tabebuias, lantanas and a variety of bromeliads and orchids. An ecosystem of birds and butterflies have taken up residence here, floating between the structure’s textured, sandy brick walls and tropical Macuil hardwood shutters.
Terrestre has 14 rooms, located in low and independent bungalow-style villas, each with a private garden of sand and flowers, an open-air shower, a generous bedroom and a rooftop with swimming pool and panoramic view. All are identical, placed in a row, ensuring all guests have an equal and premium experience. Two circular bathing pools in the park are enclosed within high walls and not only provide an opportunity for a secluded dip, but also act as a stargazing spot at night and add another important dimension to the complex. “Water is the other element that runs through the garden, creating ponds, cascading showers, pools and a mystical spa,” says Kalach. Open all day, the resort’s 40-seat open-air restaurant, also named Terrestre, is helmed by chefs Pamela Maudy and Geoffrey Antonino, who reinterpret the tradition of Mexican herbalism and bring a contemporary twist to local specialties. Specialties include milpa soup (made with chepil, corn and pumpkin flower) and plantain molotes with Istmo cheese. A wellness center, a library, an imposing brick outdoor shower folly, and a beach bar called Lunático round out the on-site offering.
Alberto Kalach’s design for the Hotel Terrestre folly, which resembles his chimney tower for the nearby Casa Wabi art foundation
The interiors, made in collaboration with design studio RB+K, are just as carefully thought out as the architecture. They feature custom works by Mexican architect and designer Oscar Hagerman – a collaboration that marks a first for Grupo Habita. The pieces, which range from modifications to Hagerman’s iconic “Ruiseñor” chairs to several completely new and bespoke pieces, were selected for their timeless quality and references to rural Mexican furniture design. They were also all built locally, in Mexico (this attitude around locality also extends to bath amenities and cooking ingredients). “Terrestre is a mixture of novelty and purity,” concludes Couturier. ‘[It is] made for humans, to enjoy the luxuries of Earth. And this place in the Mexican jungle, nestled next to nature, art and respectful architecture, really seems like the perfect place to do it. §