When Eduardo “Roth” Neira moved to Tulum two decades ago, the city was a sleepy fishing village on the Yucatán Peninsula, known for its white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and its proximity to one of the world’s largest coral reefs, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. But, with the backpackers who once frequented Tulum came the moneyed tourists and developers seeking to cash in on the Mexican paradise. The results have been catastrophic on the town and its delicate ecosystem as trees are
cut to build luxury resorts, altering the climate and driving an overabundance of algae to block sunlight from the coral reef.Roth is trying to change that with AZULIK, which, according to its website, “ aims to reconnect individuals and tribes –both native and contemporary– with themselves, with one another, with others and with the environment.” One simple way to describe AZULIK would be to call it a
with an exhibition space, a focus on food, fashion, and design, and—an aim to reconnect its visitors with nature. Another way to describe Roth’s vision is a way of life. AZULIK transports visitors to the present, with its elevated wood pathways that wind around the trees, its no-shoes indoors policy, and the picturesque views that beg one to rethink their place in the world.
The undulating structure of AZULIK brings it to life, blending it seamlessly with the nature that surrounds it. Roth also incorporated an art element, the SFER IK Museion, which exhibits artists like Kelly Akashi, Ernesto Neto, and Sissel Tolaas, and another art and food destination in the nearby jungle in Francisco Uh May. But to describe AZULIK does it no justice, one needs to pay it a visit to experience the actual magic of the place. I spoke to Roth about AZULIK, why nature is so important to him, and his plans to build an “ancestral smart city.”
Can you tell me about AZULIK and what you’ve built here?The case for everything is nature: the respect of all the networking of plants doing wonderful work for millions of years. We are destroying everything, so what I tried to do is respect nature, and not cut any trees. Plant trees if possible and try to adapt to the form of the floor when we build.
Why is nature so important to you?
We believe that nature takes thousands, millions of years in creating a purposeful form. Nature is a very intelligent and connected system. But we don’t know how to live in harmony with anything. We destroy nature, leaving cemeteries that we build on. But the idea is that we can learn from nature, instead. We can live in harmony with the natural world, and in turn receive a lot of practical gifts as basic as a fresher environment with beautiful gardens protecting us from the sun.
But we will get a lot of surprises because the trees like these ones there [pointing to a tree] have branches that live inside, but the chlorophyll is made outside where there is light. He may have little leaves, but I think he says.
Hi, I’m happy how are you?
We receive this harmony…