Santa Rita Building


The Maternity Clinic Santa Rita holds a special place in the hearts and minds of so many people who remember it as a place where their children were brought into the world. It was not only the down-to-earth homey architecture that made it a special place, but also the amazing caring staff filled with humanity and passion that made it an icon of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica.

As the cities of Latin America expand towards the periphery, town centers many times suffer from desolation and in the best cases from transformation. The unique central and strategic location for the Santa Rita Clinic in the heart of the city of San Jose and next to the Judicial Courts of the country made it ideal for a complex transformation from maternity clinic into office building.


We believe that natural light, airflow, and quality of life are elements that span beyond specific uses and forms and that comprehend universal factors that transcend time. Our entire focus in the Santa Rita Clinic re-development was not only to update the structure, use, and technologies to comply with 21st century needs and standards, but also to improve the quality of spaces through natural ventilation, natural light, vegetation, and bioclimatic design.


Communal spaces and circulation create the backbone of the new office building where electrical and mechanical installations run through but also where color, air circulation, and light are brought to all spaces of the building. Strategically placed light wells help all spaces breathe and enhance the everyday experience of the new office spaces. Due to the intense security needs of a Judicial Office Building, a pergola-parasol multipurpose façade allows for dappled light to filter inside whilst providing security to the building and gives a sculptural artistic installation façade to the street.



The structure of the old Santa Rita Clinic was updated through complex new foundation footings created whist the building stood in place and reinforcements of key columns and walls throughout as well as integrating steel beam construction to open up spaces where needed. A completely new electromechanical system and communications installation runs throughout all public spaces and feeds every room with the highest level of technology of the day whilst allowing for any future improvement to be made without interrupting the use of the building.



Architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe of Studio Saxe explains: “Reusing old structures and buildings on city centers proves to be a challenge for designers, however with creativity and common sense these “up-cycling” interventions have a much lower carbon footprint by not having to tear down and rebuild every time the use of buildings change in society.”

Strategically we have allowed for all future technological improvements to be made through common areas of the building which will aid in updating the building constantly and change use in the future. A parasol-security screen helps keep the heat out and aids in creating a comfortable interior environment without the extreme use of active climate control strategies of typical office buildings. Bioclimatic design was implemented to create spaces which are mostly lit by natural light and where there is constant natural airflow through internal gardens and light wells.



Project Data

San José, Costa Rica
Date of completion
Grupo Gasehi
Aprox. 2500m2

Project Team

Design Director
Benjamin G. Saxe
Structural Engineer
Sotela Alfaro Ltda.
Electromechanical Engineer
Rodrigo Altmann Constructora
Andrés García Lachner
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