Tropical Hub


Status: Completed


Architect: IM/KM
Project Management:  IM/KM
General Contractor: Construcciones de Bahia de Puerto Escondido, Juan Herrera, Betsy Cerrud de Quintero, and Crew
Polished Concrete: SC2 Seth Crutcher, Sasha Cole
Site Work + Landscaping + Reforestation: Main International, S.A., Saul Cedeno, Horacio Peralta, and Crew

When you pull open the barn doors to reveal airy sunlit corridors, wood paneled guest rooms and bougainvillea lined walls, it’s hard to believe that Tropical Hub houses a diverse set of often unglamorous functions. The space serves as an office, staff housing, and a multi-function storage unit for laundry, hospitality and operations. As the operational center for the adjacent Puerto Escondido Residence, Tropical Hub was designed as a case study in functional tropical modern design that utilizes passive cooling and lighting, as well as materials available on the large forested beachfront property.

To bring high design to a very functional space, we made use of readily available manufactured materials in Panama and explored how they can be paired with natural onsite materials to blend the space with the surrounding tropical forest environment. Wood facades and windows crafted from sustainably harvested tropical cedar soften a concrete frame with military-like functionality. Large barn doors slide open to reveal the two central corridors, which were oriented with prevailing winds so that the space can be open throughout the day and remain cool and breezy, eliminating the need to close the space and use air conditioning. Gardens at either end mitigate the strength of the tropical winds and filter any hot dusty wind so that the air that cross ventilates the space is clean and refreshing.

Pop up skylights in the corridors fill the rooms with natural light and eliminate the need for interior lighting during daylight. To prevent the interior temperature from rising as the sun shifts throughout the day, wooden piers planted with bougainvillea at the East and West facades serve as brise soleil, and on the North and South the roof extends to create a deep overhang.

The resulting space is a workhouse of operational functionality with a tropical modern design that blends into the surrounding environment. It is a bright breezy space that employees love to work in, but resilient enough that construction workers can pass through in work boots and all the computing, plumbing, electrical systems and storage live side-by-side but out of sight of employees.

Status: Completed 2014

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