The Villages at Loreto Bay—

The Baja California Sur, Mexico

Project Summary

  • A mixed-use development initially designed directly upon a degraded estuary
  • A re-master planned community that embraces its ecological history, celebrates the connection to the land, and regenerates the watershed

Project Description and Client Aspirations

Located on an estuary in the Sea of Cortez, south of Loreto, this 6,000-unit eco-resort and mixed-use community development is a multi-party project involving private developers (The Trust for Sustainable Development), the Mexican Government, and representatives from the marine park. The original (unbuilt) master plan was conceived by FONATUR as a New Urbanist neighborhood, and sited several of the development phases on what was once a thriving estuary.

This was unbeknownst to the developers, as it had been paved over and infilled in the 1970s. This estuary lay between the mountains and the sea, and in the past had been a pivotal factor in maintaining the health and abundance of both the marine and terrestrial systems. As it degraded, it became instead a source of deteriorating health.

Regenesis worked with the planning, design, construction and marketing teams to ensure that the development both supports and grows the health of the human community (through economic and agricultural development) as well as the natural systems that attract people to the area. An Integral Assessment™ and Story of Place™ was the basis for developing integrated design, strategy, and practice approaches that address the multiple needs and parties in holistic ways. The new design for the Agua Viva neighborhood (see rendering) is one example of the effect of this work.

Regenerating the Estuary

Regenesis helped the design team understand the critical importance of regenerating the estuary, and then worked with them to re-masterplan the affected phases so that they served to both restore and enhance the critical functions of the estuary, while creating a human environment so appealing that sales in these phases soared. Regenerating the estuary would create a win-win for the environment, for the sales, and for the residents.

Not only would it yield an aesthetically-pleasing environment in which to be, it would also provide resilience to an ecological system that had been deteriorating drastically for decades. Wildlife would return, storm surges and flooding would be mitigated, and the hydrology of the area would function more naturally. Moreover, there would be a reconnection of human-nature relationships, with the natural system and the development system being inextricably linked; and the estuary would create this link.

Having your sensitive input from both the human and natural community not only inspires us all; it protects us from potential disaster. I think of you guys as guardian angels for goodness in development.

— David Butterfield, President, Trust for Sustainable Development, Victoria, BC