House of Fireflies

Chichen Itza, Yucatán Mexico | 1,820 m2
International competition

Project Information

Chichen Itza is the archaeological site of the large pre-Columbian city built by the Mayan civilisation, located in the northern centre of the Yucatán Peninsula. Set in one of the most enigmatic and beautiful places in the world, the project is a competition for the design of a new museum lodge and visitor centre for the site.

Our design demanded a respectful and poetic architectural intervention, one that had a monumental lightness which would not compete with the Temple site, but would be in dialogue with it through an appropriate contemporary and ecologically sustainable architecture.

The location of the museum lodge is determined by the characteristics of the site, the ceremonial route to the Temple compound, coupled with a site grid whose focal and gravitational point is the Temple. Conceptually, the project is an inversion of the Mayan form, replacing solids with voids. This geometry is further underlined by the floating floor slabs from which to view the landscape.

Public and communal areas are arranged at ground level, with rooms and terraces above. At the very top is the restaurant that enjoys direct sunlight and the best views of the Temple. Circulation is through open staircases that make reference to the Mayan typology. The form of the building also protects the museum from direct sunlight.

The building is designed to have a minimal ecological impact. Photovoltaic panels clad the roof, and rainwater collection becomes a sculptural element visible from all levels. At night, suspended illuminated lodge boxes are reminiscent of fireflies in the forest canopy.

Name: House of Fireflies
Architects: Matteo Cainer Architects
Location: Chichen Itza, Yucatán Mexico
Programme: Lodge-Museum
Client: Arquitectum
Project size: 1,820 m2 
MCA Principal: Matteo Cainer
MCA Team: Avigael Perez

Chichen Itza, Yucatán Mexico | 1,820 m2
International competition