Hybrid and Palma include organic elements within brutalist Mexican hotel


Seattle architecture studio Hybrid and Mexico City-based Palma have created a hotel called NICO Loma Alta that features elements of brutalism and vernacular architecture.

NICO Loma Alta is located in Sayulita, a bohemian surf town an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, in the Mexican state of Nayarit.

Brutalist-style architecture in Mexico
Top: photo is by Alex Herbig. Above: NICO takes design cues from local Mexican architecture

With its exposed concrete frame, NICO combines elements of local architecture and building techniques with nods to both brutalism and tropical modernism.

From the residential street, the building registers as a two-floor structure; but from behind, the whole five-level, open-air grid structure can be seen.

Open-air grid structure
It has a five-storey, open-air grid structure

It has five guest suites designed to open to the surrounding landscape with floor-to-ceiling iron windows and private terraces.

“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,” said Hybrid

Spacious full kitchen at NICO Loma Alta
The main communal terrace level features a spacious full kitchen

Some of the suites are open to the treetops and ocean, while others are oriented towards the area’s tropical foilage. 

The communal area features a spacious full kitchen, a lap pool detailed with artisanal turquoise-coloured tile, and a powder room splashed in pink-stained stucco.

Blue-tiled lap pool
There is also a tiled lap pool

There is also a rooftop level with a plunge pool offering spectacular views framed by concrete beams

Furnishings throughout NICO celebrate local culture and materiality with work by emerging Mexican designers and artists including Roberto Michelsen and Diego Hernández Beauroyre, among others. 

“A neutral color palette of concrete, steel, and wood imbues a sense of craft and refuge,” Hybrid principal Robert Humble told Dezeen.

“The common spaces are more brightly colored and playful to excite the senses and create a memorable experience.”

Local Mexican interior design at NICO Loma Alta
Furnishings throughout celebrate local culture and materiality

NICO was envisioned by Humble and his wife, Nicole Johnson, as a way to express and share their interest in distinct design and adventurous travel. 

Other works of brutalist architecture in Mexico include Ludwig Godefroy’s Casa Alférez residence and Ruben Valdez and Yashar Yektajo’s Paradero Hotel in Todos Santos.

The photography is by Luis Díaz Díaz unless otherwise stated.

Project credits:

Architecture: HYBRID + Palma
Developer: HYBRID
Project team: Robert Humble, Adrián Ramírez, Alex Herbig, Scott Goodner, Josué Granados, Nia Jorquera, José Mendéz, Constanza Ponce de León, Luisa Rizo, Decada
Contractor: Adrián Ramírez
Furniture design: Roberto Michelsen
Landscape: PAAR
Branding: Trama

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