K'in Lum Ha

TTF Group

Tulum, Mexico

As part of Tulum's evolving masterplan on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, K’in is a boutique development of 8 family homes with community and sustainability at its core. Our project aims to set a new standard for environmentally conscious design in Riviera Maya.

Geologically, the Yucatán Peninsula is primarily a large platform of porous and permeable limestone, which allows water to flow through it easily. This creates subterranean sinkholes known as cenotes, which have become a major tourist attraction. From the first principles, the team has been working with local landscape designers, botanists, and ecologists to establish an ecological agenda for the project, which includes sourcing materials, tree retention, provision of habitats for native species, and planting of local fruit plants.

Our commitment to the environment extends beyond the construction phase. The project will replace any trees removed during the works, and the landscape will be actively managed to promote native flora. Moreover, we have minimised our development footprint, with 60% of the site retained as permeable landscaping or natural jungle floor.

The pristine coastline of Quintana Roo

Freshwater cenotes punctuate the landscape

The emerging masterplan of Tulum overlaid on satellite imagery

Development in Quintana Roo

Tulum is a small town 90 minutes south of Cancun in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Recently, it has seen an explosion in popularity, with tourists drawn by its laid-back style, rich cultural history, pristine natural environment and archaeological ruins.

Galleries, fine-dining restaurants and high-end hotels now sit alongside street food trucks and hostels that line the beaches and coast road. The area attracts a wealthy, bohemian clientele.

However, this surge in popularity has also led to significant development in the region. While plans for a high-speed rail link are underway to cater to the town’s growing popularity, development often comes at the cost of our natural world. The region's growth often involves clearing virgin forests and pouring concrete slabs, highlighting the urgent need for sustainable tourism practices.

Planning rules limit the height of new buildings to three storeys (the height of the trees), but this guidance is often ignored. Projects are typically high-density, and residents live together in close proximity, with little or no private amenity space.

Buildings are typically mechanically cooled with little or no provision for natural ventilation, further stressing already strained energy infrastructure.

Biodiversity is often obliterated by development.

Dense residential development in Tulum

Drone footage of the local area at sunset © TTF Group

A detailed survey was undertaken to document and asses the trees on site

The entrance to the site, Calle Galeon © TTF Group


Our project seeks to prioritise biodiversity protection and allow residents and local wildlife to live in harmony.

There is much to protect - rich flora and fauna are increasingly being put under pressure by rampant development. Our first move was to scan the jungle and ensure that any tree with a diameter over 150mm was protected from felling due to development or, if not practicable, replaced on-site with the same species.

The masterplan evolved to respond to the site’s unique conditions - wind direction, temperature, humidity - to create an architecture of its place.

Our design utilises the abundant local limestone, which is the prevalent cladding material. Large slabs are cut into regular shapes, and the offcuts, typically discarded as waste, have been identified as a valuable resource to help showcase the potential of using local materials and craftsmanship.

The project was developed in close collaboration with local partners, who provided invaluable insights into the competencies and skills of the available workforce. Together, we sought alternative materials, helping make the project a reflection of the local community. For example, limestone plaster is a common finish by local craftsmen, often from marginalised Mayan communities.

Local workers cut limestone on a nearby building site

Waste offcuts of tropical hardwood at a nearby building site

Lime plaster finish by local Mayan craftsmen at a recently completed development

Evolving Masterplan

The masterplan is defined by a single-storey stacked stone wall that frames and supports the lighter-weight upper levels. Formed from offcuts of the abundant local limestone, this striking architectural feature utilises construction waste material from other developments in the area.

In its architecture, the traditional boundaries between inside and out have been reworked; the ground floor is now an extension of the verdant landscaped gardens, and vice versa, whilst private pools embedded in the landscape are reminiscent of the iconic “cenotes” for which the area is well known.

The masterplan

House Design

The houses are designed to be passively ventilated with fully openable facades on two sides. Clad in sustainably sourced local hardwood – full height, bi-folding brise-soléil on the upper floors provide privacy and minimise solar gain whilst allowing the natural breeze to cool the properties, mitigating the need for mechanical cooling.

Inside, double height spaces and balconies assist the free circulation of air and create opportunities to frame dramatic views of the surrounding jungle. The rooftop palapa offers a 360 degree panorama of the forest canopy and intimate views of the tropical wildlife. A fully equipped kitchen, lounge and dining area encourage residents to spend time amongst the trees: true jungle living!

Animated axonometric drawing of a typical house © Studio ND