Costa Rica Tropical Architecture
Movable wooden walls open up to the ocean
Ocean Eye is a Terrace House where walls fold away to reveal breath-taking views out to the sea on one side and the jungle on the other. The House transitions from a more solid and intimate construction at the back that holds bedrooms and bathrooms, towards a light-weight structure that points to the visual collapse of the ocean and jungle views. The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape.
The tropical weather creates a perfect opportunity to live “outside” and in constant relation with the landscape. Ocean Eye is conceived as a series of terraces that break down barriers between the different spaces contained within, both vertically and horizontally, while simultaneously connecting the family to the surrounding landscape. In these interstitial spaces, which are never truly inside or out, tropical design architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.
An “umbrella roof” hovers over large terraces that project out over the property, protecting the occupants from the sun as it moves across the sky. Carefully placed gaps between floors are arranged to allow for air flow through the house, cooling it naturally in the humid environment as well as creating tridimensional relationships between all levels.
“We feel that sometimes contemporary tropical design is either too clinical, too rustic, or simply unoriginal and bucolic. We are trying to find ways of interfering within the natural landscape responsibly and looking forward, whilst learning from the past on how to use common sense to reduce energy consumption through natural ventilation.”
Benjamin Garcia Saxe
Ocean Eye harnesses modern technology, local knowledge, and handcrafted techniques to create a bespoke property that is entirely a product of its place. A concrete construction at the back holds the steep slope and earth behind the house as well as protects the inhabitants from falling branches and trees during tropical storms. At the front of the property, the stability of the terrain was addressed through a lightweight construction of steel frames that where brought and assembled on site whilst also aiding to create less weight at the periphery and hold the ground in place. The construction of the house and the terrain become one as they interact to maintain coherence during heavy rains and strong earthquakes.