JuzLyDat (jangie) wrote,

On Vox: El Monte Sagrado Resort

Apparently this spa/resort with a "functional" water-feature is in the middle of a desert~!!!
Thought it was pretty cool =)

Living Machine » Portfolio » El Monte Sagrado Resort

Projects / El Monte Sagrado Resort

Taos, NM, USA • Year: 2002 • Category: Hospitality

El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort
  • El Monte Sagrado Resort


  • 4,000 gallons per day of water treated and brought into re-use.
  • Centerpiece of a water-based architecture in the heart of the high desert.
  • Storm water reclaimed for irrigation and to augment decorative water features.
  • Ecosystem becomes part of the design aesthetic.
  • Nature and human needs are brought into harmony.

It's not habitual to think of a wastewater treatment system as a thriving ecology, but that's exactly the way that Living Machine® technology challenges us to see the world.  El Monte Sagrado's Living Machine® is a prime example.  Visitors to this AAA Four Diamond Award-winning spa and resort are treated to a lush cascade of water features, hydroponic plants, and engineered wetlands, all of which are constantly working to cleanse wastewater and rainwater for re-use.

The result embodies the resort designers' philosophy of "infrastructure as architecture," an approach that finds ways to make essential systems both environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing.  The system was integrated with the resort's design from the very beginning.  It became a central part of an overall sustainability strategy that included:

  • collection of rainwater
  • energy independent heating and cooling systems
  • ecological treatment and reuse of wastewater
  • environmentally friendly water disinfection
  • composting and re-use of organic waste material
  • onsite production of food
  • use of earth-based building materials

Guests of the resort are invited to swim in natural ponds fed with rainwater, and stroll or lounge beside a working ecological wastewater treatment system. The designers' artful blending of architecture, infrastructure, and ecology poses a profound challenge to the idea that human habitation and support systems must be divorced from our natural environment.

Schematic: El Monte Sagrado Resort

El Monte's Living Machine® treats water from two sources: the wastewater from the resort's kitchens and bathrooms, and seasonal rainwater collected to a cistern.  Water from each of these sources is treated separately, and ultimately bound for both display and re-use in landscape irrigation.

Wastewater from the resort is treated by a series of hydroponic reactors.  (The best design available in 2002, these hydroponic cells have since been superseded by Worrell Water Technologies' Next Generation Tidal Wetland and Hybrid Wetland designs.)  The reactors use activated sludge to remove nitrogen, and compost biofilters to scrub odors

The partially treated water then passes through a series of plant-covered hydroponic tanks, whose root zones contain engineered films of beneficial microbes.  The microbes do most of the heavy labor in turning waste into clean water.  Final stage treatment is applied by paired indoor and outdoor Vertical Flow Wetlands.  These wetlands "polish" the water and finish the job of removing nitrogen and solids from the water.  After treatment the water is disinfected using ultraviolet light.

In a parallel process, collected rainwater is passed through a biofilter to prepare for reuse.  Water from both sources is then deployed to display ponds, where it becomes part of the resort's "aquatecture."  Use of the recycled water to irrigate the resort's landscaping provides significantly lower water costs.

©2009, Worrell Water & Living Machine | Email Us or Call 434-973-6365

Originally posted on jayfire.vox.com

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