Used for centuries in the construction of housing in the Yucatan Peninsula area, Chukum, or “chucum water” is today a remarkable proposal for contemporary architecture that achieves cool finishes ideal for the climate of the region.
Chukum is obtained from the resin contained in the bark of the Havardia Albicans tree, this species is mainly found in the Yucatán Peninsula area, it is a semi-hard and thorny wood tree. The process of this material begins by boiling twice the bark of the tree, using the resulting water for the elaboration of the mixture, and adding limestone powder.
Chukum construction presents some difficulties; in particular, the chukum finish is very delicate and slower to bond with cement, making it difficult to apply in the rain without proper precautions. However, it also has a wide range of benefits.
It is a natural and sustainable material, and its birth in the Yucatán Peninsula allows it to be used in the area with low transportation costs and low embodied energy expenditure. The natural coloration of the material also eliminates the need for artificial dyes, while its water resistance eliminates the need for synthetic coatings.
Finally, the revitalization of this ancient technique reconnects contemporary Yucatán buildings with their Mayan precedents, making the material culturally significant as well.
These benefits have facilitated the increasingly widespread use of chukum in Mexico, both in new construction and in conservation projects.