Cancun wants a self-sufficient eco resort

How do you celebrate a country’s 50th birthday? Well, if that country is a tropical paradise like Cancun, you build it an artificial island that doubles as a self-sufficient eco-resort, of course.

For the anniversary of Cancun’s first development (there were only 3 people living there in 1970) architect Richard Moreta Castillo is designing a luxurious floating island that alleviates our environmental impact instead of adding to it.

The Grand Cancun Eco Island is imagined as a massive offshore marine platform on stilts. In addition to all the bells and whistles you might expect from a luxury resort, Castillo claims that the manmade island will also generate renewable energy and clean up the ocean.

Image via Richard Moreta Castillo & +5d

The centerpiece of the design is the snake-like shape of the structure’s main building.According to, this is meant to be a play on the nation’s Mayan name “Kan Kun” or Nest of Snakes, from the magical legend of Mayan Serpent God. “This awesome eco architecture contributes to the myth and raises the serpent from water to infinity, a great representation of exceptional harmony between Mayan people and their new metropolis.”

But for the green building enthusiast, the truly amazing features are behind the scenes. Solar panels, including see-through photovoltaic polymers, will cover most of Grand Cancun’s surface, turning the entire structure into a power plant. Underneath the buildings, there will be systems of tidal and wave energy collectors.

“All rain water will be collected and reused. Wastewater is not wasted! It will be purified and reused for gardens. A large inverse-osmosis desalination plant will provide drinking water for all the users of the complex and some for the city,” writes Michael Silvers, who helped illustrate and render Castillo’s design.

Image via Richard Moreta Castillo & +5d

Unlike other eco-buildings, which may boast mere carbon neutrality, Grand Cancun will actively improve the environment by filtering out hydrocarbons and pollutants in the water, and reducing the entire population’s fossil fuel consumption.

Project Grand Cancun was singled out from among 70 entrants in the Radical Innovation In Hospitality Award and awarded the First Prize in the National Architecture Awards of Dominican Republic, year 2012.

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling