Gardenia | Nunciatura, Costa Rica


Large planted terraces create Costa Rica’s first vertical garden
building that blends nature within a city environment

Studio Saxe decided to design and develop its first vertical sustainable building, proving that it is financially viable to create an architecture of value focused on quality of life through large terraces and planting, within the constraints of the local economy.


Studio Saxe’s first vertical development was conceptualized as an opportunity to bring the typical garden to vertical construction, increasing the quality of life for inhabitants in built-up cities in the tropics. Automated irrigation systems allow for vegetation to thrive on terraces creating a sensation of indoor-outdoor living.


By creating distinct terraces on every level, the building gives personality to each dwelling, allowing for every apartment even when the interior layout is the same to have a diverse and interesting relationship to the outside through terraces that move from side to side. This allows not only privacy to the street but also protection from the sun and rain.


Gardenia was conceived through passive design strategies like temperature control allowing cross ventilation to happen throughout each apartment thus not having corridors between units. Large terraces protect from the blazing sun at certain times of the day which are combined with parasols that also allow fractured light to seep through and provide temperature control. Vegetation on every terrace allows for materials to cool down quickly. The plants within the building are irrigated through special filters that collect rain and recycled water used by the dwellers to create a self-sustaining cycle. The common area is located on the second floor which has an orchard with edible plants that the dwellers can collect for personal consumption.


Gardenia was conceived as a concrete structure that utilized prefabricated techniques, giving the ability to be assembled quickly on-site thus allowing for the cost of the units to remain within a reasonable market value. This confirmed it’s possible to have large terraces, vegetation, parasols, and many other technologies within a specific market thus bringing the perception of the possible buyers to a new standard.

Interior Design

Studio Saxe’s interior design department coordinated all materials, kitchen design, bathroom design, living and communal spaces to be cohesive with the architectural theme of an urban tropical glamorous development. This sustainable and bioclimatic design allowed for the cohesion of materials and colors inside-out that created a harmonious building that seems to be designed by and for people with like-minded interests.

Landscape Design

Studio Saxe’s landscape design was key in order to create a building that not only brings the wildness of the natural landscape to the city but incorporates passive technologies such as water harvesting and other strategies like irrigation, plant control, and plant biology. This created a true echo system with a diverse variety of plants that allow for birds and threatened species such as bees to be part of the building’s natural environment to establish a harmonious coexistence with humans.


More about this project

Passive residential tower with green terraces rises in costa rican urban context.

Architecture of value-focused on quality of life through large terraces and planting.

Back to projects

Project Data

Rohrmoser, San Jose, Costa Rica
Date of Completion
May 2021
Saxe Development Group

Project Team

Studio Saxe Design Director
Benjamin G. Saxe
Electromechanical Engineer
Structural Engineer
Sotela Alfaro LTD
Saxe Lanscape
Interior Design
Saxe Interior Design
Alvaro Fonseca, Andres Garcia Lachner, Elias Porras


Download Press Release