Studio Saxe designs a lightweight house in Costa Rica
Taking a lightweight approach to architecture, Studio Saxe has designed a house in Nosara, Costa Rica as a subtle frame for living inside the jungle. Combining technology with local techniques, the design finds a sustainable way to let humans and nature co-exist.
The architects describe the tropical tree house as a ‘transparent object’. Its geometry was deciphered by the topography of its home – elements were pushed and pulled in deference to nearby trees and vegetation. Slightly sunken into the ground, it follows the edge of land that slopes towards a creek overlooking the jungle.
The boundaries between the interior and exterior are almost invisible. On entry to the house, the vertical triple-height atrium opens up a full view of the surrounding nature – from forest floor to the sky-high tree canopy and beyond, and the glazed walls bring the jungle right up to the house.
The ground floor living room is an immersive space that celebrates the beauty and immensity of the jungle: ‘When working in a site with abundant vegetation and on a slope, one is tempted to put all living spaces hovering over the landscape, however we made the very conscious decision of grounding people to the forest floor in the main living area,’ say the architects.
At the top of the house, nestled below the large roof, the bedrooms float in the tree canopy with views over the landscape. The wide roof creates a feeling of protection and shade for these more intimate zones of the house.
Light is controlled elsewhere through teak louvered walls that filter light into the spaces, with a similarly dappled effect as leaves on trees. Air flows through the louvers to ventilate the house naturally, and solar power is used for energy completing the sustainable energy focused project.
A low impact construction process combined technology with local knowledge – large prefabricated steel beams were assembled on site for a quick installation, while reforested teak was sourced for the louvered paneling and doors using traditional techniques.
Studio Saxe, set up by Benjamin Garcia Saxe in 2004 in Costa Rica, often blends technological innovation with handcrafted techniques across their work – as seen in the larger scale Joya Villas – as part of their exploration into the relationship between life, architecture and nature. §