Raintree House, the latest project by architects Studio Saxe, a modern Costa Rica sanctuary, makes for a calming retreat, with its ocean views and jungle surroundings. Responding to a brief that outlined creating something that 'felt like it had always been there', the architects crafted a home that draws on sustainable architecture and blends harmoniously with its surroundings, taking its cues from the tall trees, beautifully tangled foliage and raised, verdant canopy around it.
Raintree House: a modern Costa Rica sanctuary
Led by the architecture studio's design principal Benjamin G Saxe, and situated in the country's north-western province of Guanacaste, the home was conceived to be in harmony with its surroundings right from the get-go. The architects ensured every single existing tree on site was preserved and the house was built around it. Much of the volume is broken down into smaller elements, and raised from the ground, to touch lightly on the land.
At the same time, the home's arrangement was designed to allow a series of 'moments of contemplation,' the architects explain. Open vistas, glass surfaces that draw back completely to unite the interiors with the leafy context, and the use of tactile and natural materials help this structure sit organically within its setting. The design team cleverly placed all the main living areas, as well as the master bedroom, on the second floor – for better views and connections with the landscape.
The architects worked with bioclimatic principles that secure passive cooling and ventilation throughout the year as needed, adapting to the region's strong rains during the green season and intense heat during the dry one. Meanwhile, solar panels support the Raintree House's energy needs, water is recycled and reused, and materials were chosen to make sure they require minimum maintenance. Local crafts and construction techniques also played a key role, adding one more dimension to the home's eco-credentials. '[We aimed] to create a sustainable design that is both rooted in the past and looking to the future,' the architects conclude.
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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