NICO Sayulita | Sayulita, Mexico | 2022
[Hybrid + PALMA]

Immersed in the jungle-lined coast of Sayulita, Mexico—a bohemian surf town an hour north of Puerto Vallarta—is NICO, a micro hospitality experience with elevated suites, open-air common spaces, and boutique hotel-style comforts. Crafted by Seattle-based architecture and development firm, HYBRID, in collaboration with Mexico City-based architecture firm, Palma.

NICO offers a unique lodging environment where each space has been thoughtfully designed for people to experience the distinctive surroundings and connect with each other in spaces that sit within a varied gradient of privacy and openness. The building reads as a two-level structure from the street, after crossing a bridge over the main pool the user discovers the rest of the program by literally descending into the jungle. Indoor and outdoor spaces combine throughout the building in a concrete grid structure, exploring thresholds and making the most of the local climate with a fully open level that welcomes the ocean breeze and immerses guests in nature.

Once inside, visitors discover both private and social areas with unexpected viewpoints of the ocean and jungle. Views vary from airy and open on the rooftop to surrounding lush tree-tops on the middle level and then descending to a more terrestrial level where the “Jungle suite” is located—a room encircled by native foliage that features a concrete built-in tub for a spa-like experience.

NICO’s five guest suites were thought of as calming, tranquil spaces that offer the possibility to embrace the outdoors with floor-to-ceiling windows and particular spatial details like private terraces as well as custom furniture by local artisans. The main social level is accompanied by a lap pool detailed with artisanal turquoise-colored tile and surrounded by native greenery. The rooftop level features a plunge pool offering spectacular views of the bay, the ocean, and the open sky framed with concrete beams reminiscent of tropical modernism.

Suites can be used and rented in different configurations, constantly modifying the way in which the building is inhabited and allowing either an extended family or group of friends to rent the entire complex, or for the suites to be individually occupied by separate groups. This same flexibility is reflected in the structural reasoning behind the project. The grid-like structure not only allows for an efficient structural system—in coherence with local building customs—but also permits a possible programmatic mutation if needed.

The collaboration between Hybrid and Palma results in an interesting approach that draws from local building traditions, but comprehends and reimagines fundamental architectural concepts, ultimately giving rise to a fresh, modern, and autonomous architectural expression accompanied by one-of-a-kind and custom furniture designed by emerging Mexican designers which adds a playful character through materiality, color, and inventiveness. Text description by the architects.

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Photography by: Luis Díaz Díaz + Alex Herbig
Area: 3000 ft²