CACAO CENTER

project section showing the materials and vegetation
Shows the artificial lake to prevent flood, the wood path and the vernacular palm house.
location
cacao production and consumption
top view
facade making an alternation between the jungle and the museum
floor plan
views and section (vegetation)
The museum three different users
passive design
views
the way architecture shows you the place

Primary Author

  • ALEJANDRA CAMARA MARTINEZ

Institution

  • UNIVERSIDAD ANAHUAC MEXICO NORTE

Professor

  • RODRIGO LANGARICA (PROFESSOR)

Dean

  • BERNARDO GOMEZ-PIMIENTA

Assignment

I see this project as a game between the jungle and the museum. The museum respects the jungle, being a simplified form that wouldn’t compete with the jungle, but rather unify with it. This museum is not about the form nor the subject, but instead the experience. The museum itself teaches you the wonders of nature by a path. There are five galleries of the senses; Sky Gallery, Earth Gallery, Water Gallery, The Lookout, and the Palm House. These sensory galleries show you the wonders of the jungle through architecture. The Sky Gallery has four walls and is roofless, which allows you to view the tops of the trees and animals such as birds and monkeys. The Earth Gallery consists of walls in different directions simulating a labyrinth. It focuses your eyes on the floor, allowing you feel the crunching of leaves underfoot and simultaneously exhibiting the various layers of fallen leaves that create the specific level of moisture needed by the cacao plant. As Tabasco is characterized by its high humidity and strong rain floods, the Water Gallery is a room with a ramp that simulates a flood. The density of the jungle doesn't allow for long range viewing, so The Lookout is a space that is high enough to see the plantations, the museum, and the jungle. Palm House represents the vernacular building site. The project uses local materials such as Ipe wood and brick. These materials help make the space more comfortable inside.

Project Statement

It is believed that cacao originated in the city of Comalcalco — which currently produces 80% of the cacao in Mexico. It is noteworthy to mention that the Mayas-chontales culture highly regarded cacao and thus heavily consumed it. This led the Mayas-chontales to the decision to settle in the region regardless of the lack of stones, resulting in the construction of the only pyramids built with brick in the Americas. However, even with the origin of the cacao being Tabasco and having optimal plantation conditions, Mexico ranks 12th in the world for cacao production, compared to other countries like Africa where production is based on chemicals, pesticides, and even the exploitation of workers. Comalcalco's cacao production on the other hand is organic, sustainable, and has a fair work structure. In Comalcalco the creole cacao is produced, which is unique for its flavor and aroma. In contrast, the mestizo cocoa has been modified for production in other parts of the world and adaption to different weather conditions. Comalcalco hasn't been fully exploited for its potential, seeing as the consumption of cacao in Mexico has declined with the loss of the Mayan custom of consuming it on a day to day basis. There are many chocolate museums in the world but none specifically of cacao plantations that exhibit natural processes. For that reason, I have decided to create a cacao center. The land is located in a natural jungle with a current cocoa plantation, now surrounded by the city, Comalcalco.

Project Description

The impetus is to create a project that responds to the context. The project is located in a majestic natural jungle that stands on its own. I needed something that wouldn’t compete with the jungle, but rather unify with it. My concept is based on cacao plantations; squares and rectangles where small plants are grown before being incorporated into the jungle and on the routes leading to each of these squares with plants. That is how the volume of the project arises; the cubes emerge from the jungle like trees, each at different heights — making an alternation between the jungle and the museum.To reach each of the points of the museum, it requires a constant connection with nature. The plantations receive 18,000 tourists annually. Once a year they have the cacao fair in Tabasco, consisting of conferences and cacao product tasting. Actually, there are people all over the world that visit the plantations (especially students) for a whole week to learn about them and the biodiversity of the jungle, but they don't have the correct infrastructure to stay. The museum is adequate for three different users; tourists, locals, and students or professionals who decide to stay some days in the center. Thus, the museum is divided into areas, while at the same time being connected together. Tourists: rooms of the museum, plantations tour, jungle tour, machinery, workshops, tasting, shop, and cafeteria. Inhabitants / General Public: temporary exhibitions, auditorium, cafeteria, library, shop. Students / workers: cacao farming, residences, machinery, cacao senate area.

1/12
project section showing the materials and vegetation