Project:           Ark Flood Observatory (Competition)
Year:               2010
Type:               Cultural
Location:       Tenosique, Mexico


A Culturally Integrated Modern Responsive Ruin

The Ark-Usumacinta Flood Observatory is poised to become a nationally recognized icon for Tenosique and Usumacinta River. One that is synonymous with the dynamic vernacular of Tenosique de Pino Suarez that for decades has been economically driven by its river. The observatory serves as a powerful symbol -one that evokes an instantaneous and indelible impression as a global steward of the environment with a culturally optimistic vision and commitment to the future.
The Usumacinta River represents the symbolic and active epicenter of culture for Tenosique. The river at the heart of the town is the impetus for our design. The scheme is unequivocally unique to the ecology and topography of its site. Redefining the site boundaries to embrace an entire town as it reinvents a new gateway into its own cultural identity. A way-finding landmark, the observatory becomes the link to historical natural phenomena embedded in its own history. The Architecture becomes, by virtue of its sculpted and indelible figure, a Modern Responsive Ruin in nature. The building’s primal form is deeply embedded in nature, with distinct facets visible from all corners of the city from the banks of the Usumacinta River and vantage points throughout Tenosique de Pino Suarez. Positioned, literally at the heart of the mountain, the Ark not only serves as an Observatory, research center, disaster refuge and museum, but also connects the social and cultural fabric on both sides of the Usumacinta River. Its Architectural program typology is fragmented in space but connected by knowledge and information. The observatory is located at the top of the mountain while the research facility is located at the level of the river. It embraces the water level changes in order to gather knowledge. Also embracing floods as a natural phenomenon, bringing water onto the site to integrate with the architecture, accentuating Architecture in a symbiotic connection to the river.

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