Studio Saxe’s twin villas in Costa Rica make for the perfect tropical retreat
If one were to paint a picture of the perfect tropical retreat, it would surely involve large open spaces, swathes of concrete, wood and glass, generous openings that create a seamless transition between the interiors and the lush greenery and bright sunlight outside. Studio Saxe has it nailed with not one, but two neighbouring houses in Costa Rica’s Santa Teresa rainforest.
The Joya Villas, a set of modern homes designed as rental properties, are head architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe’s latest residential offering. The San Jose-based architect likes to explore the relationship between architecture and the natural environment, and this commission gave him the perfect excuse to test out his studies.
The houses are nestled on a hillside and jut out of the area’s rich forest vegetation, standing out with their steel frames and rectangular forms. Aiming to use modernist forms and an international, contemporary design language, the studio paired the structural steel with naked concrete and wooden screens and doors, referencing both historical and modern Central American tropical architecture.
Dramatic cantilevers hang over the houses’ main living spaces, offering shade and protection from the region’s warm sun. The large openings and delicate details – such as the floating staircases – engender a sense of lightness. The interior follows a traditional arrangement, with living spaces on the ground level, leading out to a terrace with swimming pool, while private rooms are tucked away above.
‘Joya Villas is a clear reflection of a new wave of contextual contemporary tropical architecture that is born from and adapts to its precise location, land contours, and climate’, says Garcia Saxe. ‘Everything we do at Studio Saxe is focused on trying to enhance the experience of the natural in the inhabitant of spaces and perhaps even create moments of relaxation and reflection. This train of thought and the architecture that is emerging could begin to be considered as the birth of an authentic Central American Tropical Architecture.’