Designed by an Argentine-born local hotel owner who goes only by “Roth,” Azulik Uh May is a remarkable new avant garde art school, gallery and cultural property in Tulum Mexico that lies just minutes from the best beaches in the world, nestled in the heart of the lush Riviera Maya jungle.
The new development in Tulum just opened in December, but it’s already getting lots of attention from major international news, design and travel sites like Architectural Digest, Lonely Planet, Designbloom and Artsy.net. Read on to see more of this fantastical new project and discover why you should definitely explore beyond beachfront Tulum when you visit Mexico’s Riviera Maya!
New Tulum Property Combines Sustainability and Art
A 52-foot-high dome soars over IK LAB, which is the central art gallery at Azulik Uh May, while live trees emerge from holes in the polished concrete floor and shoot up through tunnels that hang down from the ceiling. When it rains, the holes in the roof funnel water directly onto the tree roots and create a stunning sight to behold.
“Roth’s vision was to build a contemplative space where art convenes with nature”, wrote AD. “Unlike most institutions, IK LAB is not a white cube, nor does it possess any right angles”.
Instead, the dome is a maze of fluid shapes and spiraling, elevated walkways that are paved with bejuco vines and hide cozy nooks here and there for visitors to explore with bare feet. By its very design, this inventive space frees the viewer from the formalities of a typical art museum and create a more intimate experience.
In April of 2018 Roth opened the first incarnation of IK LAB gallery at the original Azulik, his beachfront Tulum eco-hotel. At the time, he had already started construction on the new, larger location just 30 minutes inland at Azulik Uh May, which is situated in the lush jungle forests of Francisco Uh May – a Mayan village just a half-hour from the best beaches in the world – the journey is almost as fun as the destination.
“[You’ll pass] a stretch of roadside, open-air vendors of woven hammocks and tapestries that veers off into a potholed dirt road that leads to an opening among the trees”, wrote AD.
Here, a chain of otherworldly structures host a gallery, a restaurant, Roth’s personal residence and a soon-to-open artist residency program that is already shaping up to be unlike anything else on the planet.
“In museums, there’s such a barrier between the viewer and the artwork: You can’t approach the works, and you’re being dwarfed by a flood of information and procedures”, artistic director Claudia Paetzold told AD. “The stress of these conditions can make it difficult to really look”.
At Azulik Uh May the inaugural exhibition, “Conjunctions,” features a variety of grounding material and highlights “the crossroads of the human journey,” with works from artists Paulo Nazareth, Ernesto Neto and Oskar Metsavaht. The entire Tulum property is designed with daily acts of improvisation; rather than following premeditated plans, Roth and his team sculpt each building on-site daily with little regard for whatever was done yesterday or what will be done tomorrow.
“It’s an alchemical process rather than an academic one”, he shared. “A collaboration with a lot of elements: the sum of the human beings, the trees, and even the animals involved”.
His vision for the future includes a variety of vibrant creative residency programs for fashion designers, artists, musicians and chefs, who will live on-site and share their expertise with the arts and crafts school for local residents. Ideally, the entire endeavor will be self-sustaining through the sale of finished products.
Over the next two years, Azulik Uh May will continue to grow on its 10-acre site, and there are plans to add labs, studios and more to support the residencies, along with a solar panel system to replace the generator.
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