build in UvitaAfter 6 months of construction , this is how the Singer’s residence looks like in Uvita, Costa Rica. This modern single family home follows a tropical house plan of  300 square meters at a cost of $1,150  ( a thousand one hundred and fifty american dollars) per square meter approximately so far. It has a primary structure of poured concrete, exterior concrete block  walls and USG brand drywall interior walls. The project counts also with a pool that is 2,65 meters by 11 meters long and a 36 square meter garage on the back. Open views and cross ventilation everywhere are the major tropical features that clients approved to improve their idea of their retirement home in Costa Rica. We expect this house to be ready on march 2015. Modern architecture in Costa Rica and passive strategies are applied  here, drop a line of you want to visit!

Most people reach me out with the intention of building beautiful contemporary homes, based on specific ideas they like and count with clear references of what they want: pictures from magazines, web, etc. In Costa Rica, most architects understand this style very well, but not most contractors. Including foreigners and locals. They see something different from the usual ( same old version of “neo colonnial” style ) and just like that they raise the price, due to their inexperience. Here is a proof of what happened in spite of having detailed renderings and blueprints.

Here’s an example. Anandakanda is a project that was rendered like this…

Tropical architecture in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

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To be able to truly enjoy a terrace in the tropics where you can sit all day regardless of the day’s weather conditions (sunny or rainy), an expert like an architect can help you with the design’s orientation of your home or with choosing the right shade device.One easy way of making sure you are in the proper direction, is to check shades at the location at 3 pm in the afternoon ( warmest time during the day in most parts of Costa Rica)during equinox , summer and winter solstice. If the specific location gets enough shade during these times of the year, more likely you will get enough shade all year long.  How can we do this? I personally use the EcoTect Program, a BIM Modeling system that is a great tool that allows me to design a specific overhang or shade device , horizontal or vertical, and explore  and give my client different options that will also emphasize views and good ventilation .

Here’s the typical scenario: houses near the beach usually are oriented to south west or west to maximize ocean views  also get a lot of heat coming in due to the orientation. Here’s three important ideas to create the perfect environment.

Step 1. In these situations it is extremely important to use a vertical shade device and extend the overhang up to 3,5 meters (depending on the width of the terrace) . When doing the landscape, choose trees with skinny trunk but that can grow tall.Picture2.  Horizontal shading devices do not effectively shade this terrace.Check how the terrace has no shade at all.

Tropical House design with a sliding vertical shading device that effectively drops in the correct shadow angle on the terrace.Chontales de Osa, Costa Rica.

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2013-07-26 17.31.48So it is! You have read correctly. How can Icelandic recyclable architecture be applied in the tropics? How can you select construction materials in the tropics being inspired on such a different context?

On my recent  trip to Iceland, this wall in Reykjavick called my attention specially because it is made of  wooden pallettes.The tropical application would be very simple. You basically need to take the remains from hard wood structural sections, add cross ventilation and a great joint . Of course this works with a great natural sealant or wax ( bees wax or penofin) , plus wide overhangs that protect it from sun and rain.

2.3

My friend Pagsi wants to build 2 apartments, 2 bedroom each in a 300 sm lot in Santa Ana area. This is a populated zone where the opportunity for rental income is high, so building her own loft and having an additional one to rent is just a great idea of a stress free life for a yoguini.

Tropical Contemporary Urban Oasis in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

Tropical contemporary loft option in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

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For those of you wanting to build a small size vacation home, small apartments or cottages and bungalows, there’s some innovative ideas that I have applied to some projects, with great results and I’d like to share.

Let’s take the typical ‘beach or mountain cottage’ as an example. This would be a smaller detached home with approximately 1000 living sq ft ( 120 sm/ 1291 sft, 2 to 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, 1 or 2 levels) on  a budget of 60k to 70k (good quality construction)  in a beach or mountain
setting..
When creating your dream ‘cottage’, one can accomplish staying within budget, aesthetics, and functionality by using new life style concepts, new materials and new thinking overall. If you take ‘change’ as part of life and can deal with a few, you’ll be good to go. My philosophy is that ‘the river is not the same river, it changes with every second that passes by’, and I like to apply that to my designs. I have accomplished the ‘tropical living’ in many designs and have stayed within budget by incorporating some, or all, of these ideas and construction materials in the tropics:

1. Roof as envelope.
In Costa Rica, due to it’s geographical location, a home’s roof is in charge of reflecting the sunlight back to the atmosphere, protecting the interior from rain and providing insulation. So here’s an idea: use the ‘envelope roof design’, which looks like an open envelope with the living space inside. Here are some examples of houses built like that in Europe, Brazil and one of my designs in Costa Rica.

When Christia Madacsi, from Centro y Sur magazine interviewed me, I traveled with my mind to my former years in college, life as a child and more importantly to essential roots of architecture and why we need it in modern times. As my first interview and my first time having an article of published on a magazine,  I  realize how much I enjoy connecting with people who share my philosophy and points of view. It is the same feeling of working with a client when we both like ideas, discussing them.This integral work makes an awesome project born.

I hope you enjoy this article, and invite you to read the whole magazine. Loved their graphic design and the content just make me pride of Latin America.If you want to listen to my interview click here!

 

I am working on this tropical modern project, and the owner and I would like to hear about your opinion on colors. Which one you like the best? White metal facade? Silver metal facade? or slate gray facade? Please fill the form below.

Silver Option

Slate gray option

White option

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When I was asked by John Kettlewell to design his house in Escazu, I started wondering what would be the best solution for his lot’s specific situation: get the best view and moving not too much earth. Not only for budget proposals but thinking about sustainability too.This scale model really helped me to figure it out. It is an old school technique that I believe every great architect may still use , despite the advanced technology available to us. I could almost feel and touch the shapes of the ground and was able to model them more accurately and more comfortable than with a 3d software!

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After visiting the latest edition of the Construction Fair several days ago, something got me thinking…why there´s so many companies offering solar water heaters and not so many offer  photovoltaic  systems to generate electricity despite the fact that solar energy will become a more economically attractive energy source in the future?

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