The Terrace House


Expansive terraces hang over Costa Rica jungle paradise.

Studio Saxe was commissioned to design a home that would hang over the jungle whilst creating expansive outdoor spaces protected by a large roof structure to provide outdoor living in the Costa Rica Jungle.


Studio Saxe encountered a steep property accessed from the top, and this scenario became the primary guiding principle for the positioning of multiple living spaces/terraces that hang over the trees to create a sensation being within nature. The rest of the home is accessible by a vertical staircase core that joins all spaces as it winds all the way down.


Studio Saxe decided to create the public spaces of the home on the top floor to engage nature at the canopy level and create a sense of floating amongst the trees. Terraces are split as a series of spaces that create a multiplicity of hang-out lounges which are perfect for entertaining and for looking at diverse parts of the jungle.



The construction of the home was created as a step-down retaining wall that would then house a lightweight steel frame structure joined by a central staircase which acts as a primary source of structural integrity for the home. The result is a very solid concrete back to every space and an ephemeral lightweight structure in front that hangs over the jungle floor.



The home is strategically sunken into the earth for minimal vertical impact on the jungle slope. The positioning and geometry adapt to the existing trees in the property creating an almost magical effect where the house is never seen from the outside but is rather an internal hidden experience with large terraces and an extended roofline that protects from the sun and the rain creating comfort without the use of energy. The lightness of the structure allowed for prefabrication which in turn created an efficient construction methodology that was placed within the existing jungle with minimal impact. Bioclimatic design through cross ventilation, rainwater harvesting, and solar energy production is an integral part of every design of Studio Saxe and is considered into this design as well.

Project Data

Nosara, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Date of completion
John Gilmore
Approx. 455 m2

Project Team

Design Director
Benjamin G. Saxe
Structural Engineer
Sotela Alfaro LTDA
Electromechanical Engineer
Andres Garcia Lachner