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Baja Club

Max von Werz Arquitectos

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico

November 2021


Max von Werz (Owner)


J A U N E (Interior design), Luca Salas (Lighting design), PAAR (Landscape design), DECSA (Structural engineering), Taller2M (MEP engineering


Grupo Habita


Rory Gardiner / César Bejar


Our project’s central ambition was to sensitively build on the site’s rich history and character but at the same time update it in order to give it a new lease on life. It was a conscious decision not to demolish, but rather to conserve and complement. The old villa was carefully repaired and retrofitted and the property’s gardens and antique brick property walls were largely preserved. While decidedly modern, our extension, containing the bulk of the hotel's guest rooms, is discretely nestled into the property’s interior where it enters into a respectful dialogue with the old villa.

Baja Club gives a modern twist on Mexico’s rich tradition of colors, textures, and craftsmanship. By using local materials in a fresh and streamlined manner it creates a bridge that ties together the identity of the hotel’s old and new components. Artisanal Talavera tiles, for instance, a classic finish in Mexico’s old haciendas, are applied here to create clean– cut monochromatic volumes becoming a common thread throughout the project. Terrazzo floor and skirting tiles found in the old villa were meticulously replicated by hand and used throughout the hotel.

Where possible, locally produced materials and finishes were used, including hand–finished timber millwork and custom furniture, thereby supporting local employment and controlling the embodied energy of the project by minimizing transport. For us, using local craftsmanship was a way to anchor the project in its locale, achieve a certain authenticity and build a strong connection with the history and identity of the place.


Baja Club entails a 32–room lifestyle hotel for hotelier Grupo Habita located on a beautiful plot of coastal promenade in the historic center of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Blending old with new, the 39,000 sq ft project brings together the restoration and adaptive reuse of a pre–existing colonial–style landmark villa dating from 1910 –once a site for oyster pearl harvesting– and the construction of a new four–story extension plus basement containing guest rooms, suites, a spa and a rooftop bar.

The new build echoes the L–shaped floor plan of the villa resulting in an ensemble that loosely frames a central courtyard, home to several fragrant frangipani trees, while isolating a series of more tranquil gardens and patios along the perimeter of the site.

The mass of the intervention is concentrated towards the rear of the site, thereby guaranteeing an adequate integration into the scale of the existing built fabric along the waterfront promenade. The tiered massing of the extension further reduces its visual bulk and provides generous terraces enjoying panoramic views of the Bay of La Paz, once the setting of John Steinbeck’s novel The Pearl. Subtle nautical connotations such as the new build’s horizontal streamlining, curved timber bulkheads and massive built–in tables draw inspiration from the nearby Sea of Cortés once famously coined the “aquarium of the world” by Jacques Cousteau. Vertical circulation is resolved in the form of a generous helical staircase positioned at the intersection between the two wings of the new building.


A priority for our project was to offer all users –visitors and staff alike– barrier free access as well as a dignified generosity of space and natural light. Amenities throughout the hotel are not exclusive to overnight guests but available to local residents also. The central courtyard has become the prime stage for communal events such as seasonal fiestas, weddings and educational activities. The restaurant with its Greek cuisine complements the local gastronomic scene while the rooftop sunset bar with its panoramic views has been a success with residents and visitors alike.

Passive design solutions have positively impacted the project's energetic consumption record. For instance, the new build’s cantilevered reinforced concrete floor plates and curved timber bulkheads serve as shading elements that vastly reduce solar heat gain to the interior spaces thereby minimizing dependence on mechanical air conditioning. All circulation spaces are open–air and guest room corridors are shaded by lacquered brise–soleil elements that promote cross ventilation. Numerous water elements throughout the project cause evapotranspiration, refreshing the outdoor spaces in La Paz’ hot and dry desert climate. While our intervention preserved the majority of native vegetation as it existed, special care was given to ensure the use of endemic species where plants were added, thereby ensuring a low water consumption.

Materials were chosen for their durability and longevity. All timber elements exposed to the taxing local climate were fabricated in Accoya, a sustainably sourced acetylated wood with a guaranteed life expectancy of 60 years.

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