This is a vacation retreat for an American doctor and family on the Osa Peninsula; realization of a client’s lifelong fascination with wilderness and desire for life in the proximity of exuberant nature. Located on 98 hectares of virgin rainforest with views east to Golfo Dulce and west to the Pacific, the house occupies a small hill formerly a mango farm, avoiding the need to clear trees. Moving down the hill, different wings orient themselves, rotating in plan as they descend, privileging with their discrete axes of symmetry multiple points of fugue to structure views of the forest around with silent invisible geometries. Two walled gardens defined by low walls provide transition between “interior” and exterior, outdoor places safe to use in evenings when snakes freely roam about. The house proposes as intimate as possible a collaboration with nature, defining the space as it often does as a sequence of descending gaps opening in different directions.
The arrangement proposes a controlled but unstable tension between house as object and space of the forest as site. Rather than a freestanding element surrounded by leftover land, or boundary-like architectural arrangement encircling courtyards, it gives neither primacy to object nor space. The house retains integrity of a single architectural volume seen from outside, as the pavilions overlap in depth, flattening perception of spaces in-between, yet as one enters, vistas of forest and sky between pavilions make it hard to discern if surrounded by one structure or many.
With its remote location and tight budget, the house was designed to achieve the following five main points: - Desire for a measured, respectful proximity to the forest - Definition of spaces for warm climate year-round, protection from sun in summer, from rainstorms in winter - Utilizing topography to closely approach corners of the forest, to generate a psychological map of the house’s "interiors" with intuitions of up, down, gulf-side, ocean-side, etc. - Open architectural plan encircling and framing landscape, allowing winged wildlife to traverse throughout - Method of construction flexible enough to create complex roof forms suggested by demands of the plan, the hill, and topography, yet simple enough to be built by local labor in remote location
Due to its remote location as well as its extremely tight budget, the house is built with local well-known materials the Costa Rican builders are well acquainted with: walls are white stuccoed CMU with reinforced concrete structure, floors are polished concrete and ceilings, and fenestration are wood from locally harvested already-dead trees.