The Holdener family bought a beautiful property with two breath-taking views: towards the ocean and into the jungle. We decided to rest the house against the back of the steep hill of the site in order to stabilize the soil and protect the house from falling debris. The house then transitions from a more solid and intimate construction at the back that holds bedrooms and bathrooms, towards a light-weight and ephemeral structure that points to the visual collapse of the ocean and jungle views. The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels, but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape. In these interstitial terrace spaces, which are never truly inside or out, architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.
Technology Passive: We believe in the use of technology in order to predict and design structures that will consume the least amount of resources, thus we use computer technology to confirm and sometimes explore common sense principles of human comfort that have been implemented through the ages. In this project we carefully analyzed local wind patterns to create a comfortable cross ventilation that would cool the spaces without the use of air conditioning. The use of the house by the clients has confirmed that the comfort goal was achieved under what is a very humid and hot climate. We looked carefully at the solar trajectory to create large overhangs in the right places and to be able to open and close the house in the right moments.
Active: We used photovoltaic panels to create the energy needed for the home as well as solar thermal technology to heat water. Every single item in the house is energy efficient and the entire lighting system has been developed with high efficiency LEDs.
Water The house collects rainwater from all roof structures to store and use throughout the house for all human activity.
Materials The project is composed in great proportion out of locally resourced reforested and certified Melina wood. Most sinks were hand crafted and created on site, as well as doors, kitchen cabinetry, and bathroom furniture. This house, even though it might resemble an idea of modernity, is actually a carefully handcrafted object built by local workers under extreme and remote tropical conditions with limited resources and tools with local materials.
Building Techniques Due to the remote location of the property, the main structure of the house was designed to be semi-prefabricated steel members that could be as light-weight as possible and brought to site preassembled. This reduced the construction process impact on the topography as well as helped brings costs down by making a quicker and more efficient construction process. The result is a house that combines gracefully contemporary materials and techniques with local handcrafted construction.
Beauty We have seen how buildings with the highest sustainability standards in the world can also be very ugly. For us it is important to search for a type of beauty that will make inhabiting spaces a wonderful experience that enhances the relationship between humans and the natural world. We see sustainability as an intrinsic value that relates to the inherent beauty of built objects. We look for efficiency more as a way to find some beauty in what works well. An incredibly sustainable design that is ugly will probably be demolished before any design that humans cherish as beautiful. We strive to find a type of beauty that will make our designs last and be cherished by inhabitants of today and tomorrow.
Architecture Team: Design Director: Benjamin Garcia Saxe Project Coordinator: Laura Morelli Project Design Team: Cesar Coto, Rogelio Quesada, Alejandro Gonzalez, Maribel Mora Construction Documentation: Roger Navarro Structural Engineer: Sotela Alfaro Ltd Electromechanical Engineer: Electrotec S.A Builder: Dante Medri and Adrian Alvarado Photo Credits: Andres Garcia Lachner