El Corazon is the result of a team effort, the evolution of a concept, from a very basic sketch to a first class restaurant. Mixed ideas, aligned and shaped to create a social area outlined by custom finishes, raw materials and a very selected colors palette. With a bioclimatic design, El Corazon highlights comfort, elegance and sophistication by the hand of a magnificent forest view and internal gardens. CRN Architecture proudly presents El Corazon as one of the most iconic restaurants in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. An achievement of their team’s expertise and clients’ confidence, together, create a major experience in design and functionality.
Architizer chatted with Mauricio Segura, Chief Executive Officer at CRN Architecture, to learn more about this project.
Architizer: What inspired the initial concept for your design?
Mauricio Segura: For our team one of the most important goal was to mix the concept of the open terraces with the natural surroundings. Santa Teresa is place to enjoy, nature is everywhere, and El Corazon is not the exception. Located on top of a hill, terraces and social areas are aligned with the canopy level of the nearby forests. Stopping by at Corazon for a cocktail or a beer is part of the traveling experience, connecting the people with the ocean good vibes and the local charm were priorities during the concept development.
What do you believe is the most unique or ‘standout’ component of the project?
Several things were highlights during the project development. As a team, the attention to detail was present in every corner. Customized details were the crucial to make El Corazon standout from many other restaurants in the area, details like polished concretes with special colors, handmade concrete tiles with very specific designs, handmade finishes for walls and paint. All the place keep a very special handcrafted air, details, love, care and commitment is present over all the team, from design, suppliers and builders.
What was the greatest design challenge you faced during the project, and how did you navigate it?
When working in the tropics, weather can be a complete challenge. Keeping dry open areas like terraces and corridors, making functional spaces against wind and rain was part of our challenge as a design team. Tropical weather especially during the rainy season in Costa Rica can be hard to go through. El Corazon is surrounded by nature, rain splashing and strong windy storms are very common, choosing the right materials is the key to prevent and avoid structural damage and the need of constant maintenance.
Exploring materials and roof models was an important exercise during the architectural modeling, this elements added to very well and detailed structural designs helped a lot to prevent and an avoid major problems during construction stage.
How did the context of your project — environmental, social or cultural — influence your design?
El Corazon management staff and owners are fully commitment with nature and the way of life of Santa Teresa. From the first approach and first sketches, keeping the essence and vibe of town was in our team scope. Being the first fully vegetarian restaurant in town, taking the gastronomic offer to the next level. All these different ways to make the project connect with local people and customers were also part of learning experience for our team.
What drove the selection of materials used in the project?
All the materials proposed and selected attended to our team experience on site. Bioclimatic architecture in the Tropics is always a challenge for every team. Reaching the balance in between design and nature is not an easy task, exploration of materials techniques and constant experimentation is part of the learning path. Talking with local people, local builders, researching about what works and how to deal with the most common problems, that is how our team defines and selects material in order to get the best quality and durance the material selection.
What is your favorite detail in the project and why?
My favorite detail are the polished concrete walls. From the color selection to the hands of the craftsman that applies to product. There is a process of testing, a try and failure until the desired finish and color is reached. Here is where the authenticity and character of the project is achieved.
How important was sustainability as a design criteria as you worked on this project?
Living in Costa Rica as a top country in sustainability matters, making this element as part of the design and construction process is important as the concept itself. The efficiency in design in terms of energy, water cleaning and reuse, integration of the natural elements into the functionality of the place and connecting people with these same elements is also part of our responsibility as an architectural studio commitment with nature.
In what ways did you collaborate with others, and how did that add value to the project?
We encourage local participation of local artisans, craftsmen and local suppliers during both processes, design and execution. Not only as a way to add value, but as a way to connect local people with the project. This is part of the authenticity given during each stage.
Were any parts of the project dramatically altered from conception to construction, and if so, why?
No major changes were made, the ideas and needs of the client were very clear during all the development of project.
How have your clients responded to the finished project?
As a restaurant getting ready to open to customers, the excitement of the last part of the project was present in every detail. Clients had a very active participation during every stage from the design to the construction. All the efforts of the team were focused on keeping the scheduling of the opening day and keeping the quality in finishes as high as possible.
What key lesson did you learn in the process of conceiving the project?
The key lesson for our team was patience, in order the reach the best products, finishes with the higher standards.
How do you believe this project represents you or your firm as a whole?
This project has been key to our firm. This pushed or team into a higher level or architecture and design. El Corazon has become a reference point worldwide for many other projects in terms of sophistication, elegance and style. A very important addition to our projects portfolio.
How do you imagine this project influencing your work in the future?
This project has been already a link to many of our new projects. It brought new opportunities to our firm.
Arq. David Canales, Arq. Amanda Lasso, Arq. Edward Chacón, Ing. Diego Segura, Ing. Leonardo Young, Ing. Wayner Mata, Ing. Gustavo Gómez. PM. Mauricio Segura.
For more on El Corazon, please visit the in-depth project page on Architizer.