The Playa Viva sustainable resort & residence community sits on 200 acres 30 minutes south of Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Committed to green building and with a history of positive community engagement, the developers were looking for ways to bring together these values with the creation of a financially successful resort community. Regenesis engaged in an assessment of the site’s over 200 acres which includes pristine beaches, a private nature preserve, turtle sanctuary, ancient ruins, and a natural estuary that is home to over 200 species of exotic birds.
Through this assessment, we helped the project team build an understanding of how the development could catalyze a process of health and transformation for the nearby village and larger ecological system the site inhabited. The Regenesis team then led several design charrettes to translate that understanding into a master plan, design concepts and resort theme, along with concepts for how to integrate activities that improved the socio-economic as well as cultural lives of the area inhabitants.
Playa Viva opened in November 2009, at the very bottom of the American recession, and adopted a biomimetic framework of gradual, adaptive expansion. The development has become a leader in the community, and its presence has truly been of benefit to the surrounding ecosystem and its inhabitants. In addition to regenerating the surrounding ecosystem, Playa Viva has strived to be of benefit to the surrounding community. By engaging with community groups through educational projects geared towards sustainability, and by primarily hiring local people, Playa Viva has been a positive driver for the community on multiple fronts. For example, Playa Viva has led organic farming workshops as well as waste reduction programs for local community members, developed a turtle sanctuary that employs local workers, and developed a local salt co-op to ensure the salt harvesters receive business at a fair price.
At the core of all of this work, the Play Viva project was able to uncover a rich and amazing history that had largely been forgotten in the area. Through public education regarding this history and the place’s potential, Playa Viva has enabled members of the community to feel, rightfully, that they have a say in how their community should evolve in the future.