london and costa rica-based studio benjamin garcia saxe has recently completed the ocean eye, their latest private residence located in a hillside by playa santa teresa, costa rica. the remote site, enjoying the raw beauty of tropical forest and ocean environments also falls victim to the logistical difficulty of  getting materials to the site in the hot, humid climate. the building is situated deep onto a step created on the hillside suggesting a clear distinction between more private areas of the home and the more open, social zones. the strategic positioning also helps avoid any erosion on site and prevents damage due to falling debris.

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exterior circulation and interior bedrooms form a constant connection between indoor and outdoor
image © andres garcia lachner (also first image)

 

 

given its privileged views, the design opens to two sides corresponding to the water front and forest. to simplify the construction process in a difficult-to-reach area, benjamin garcia saxe decided the primary structure would consist of lightweight prefabricated steel frames that could be easily transported and assembled on site. the slender frames also lend to the conceptual impetus of the design- to create a home that provides a gradual transition from exterior to interior, never quite existing fully as either.  the stepped floor plan dictates the relationship between enclosed and exposed spaces. bedrooms and bathrooms are relegated to the rear of the house, abutting the dense forest canopy.

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an extended concrete patio and pool promote and outdoor lifestyle
image © andres garcia lachner

 

 

where the structure steps, an outdoor wooden deck extends to frame an exterior level and circulation to other areas of the home. the journey from one room to another requires the inhabitants to regularly journey from indoor to outdoor and visa versa, constantly connecting with nature. covering the extend of the footprint of the home, at two stories off the ground, is a deep roof plane that provides much needed shade from the tropical sun, while a louvered bay in the center of the canopy filters indirect light to the center. the living areas are meanwhile set entirely in the open, enjoyi unabated views and extension into the surrounding landscape.

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from the second story, the nearby ocean and surrounding forest make a visual connection
image © andres garcia lachner

 

 

while the ocean eye is every bit an example of a contemporary design, much of the house apart from the steel structure was in reality built by local craftsman on site, using traditional methods and materials. the house as an object is a testament to local architecture and culture, set within a modern frame. given its location and the architects’ sense of environmental responsibility, the systems that make living possible were carefully designed to be almost entirely independent of the grid. photovoltaic panels on the roof harvest light energy while water is directed into cisterns to provide for the inhabitants’ needs. the heating takes advantage of solar thermal technology to relieve the use of electricity and natural gas, and high-efficiency fixtures throughout the home cut down on energy usage. certified local lumber was used extensively throughout the home, forming the walkways and deep overhangs that passively control internal temperatures along with natural ventilation.

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image © andres garcia lachner

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the central living room sites under a double height canopy open on all sides to the exterior
image © andres garcia lachner

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all furniture and fixtures are made on site by local craftsman practicing traditional construction methods
image © andres garcia lachner

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retractable walls and openings in the floor plate visually merge the house on a horizontal and vertical axis
image © andres garcia lachner

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image © andres garcia lachner

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image © andres garcia lachner

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escalators lead visitors to the upper reaches of the building
image © andres garcia lachner

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image © andres garcia lachner

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image © andres garcia lachner

benjamingarciasaxe_oceaneye
image © andres garcia lachner

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image © andres garcia lachner

benjamingarciasaxe_oceaneye
image © andres garcia lachner

benjamingarciasaxe_oceaneye
image © andres garcia lachner

 

 

 

 

project info:

 

 

location: playa santa teresa, puntarenas, costa rica
date of completion: may 2016
client: holdener family
area: aprox. 300m2
design director: benjamin garcia saxe
project coordinator: laura morelli
project design team: cesar coto, rogelio quesada, alejandro gonzalez,   maribel mora
construction documentation: roger navarro
structural engineer: sotela alfaro ltd
electrical/mechanical engineer: electrotec s.a
builder: dante medri and adrian alvarado    
photo credits: andres garcia lachner

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  • Incredibly beautiful house and setting. Some issues with safety and comfort: the cable railings suggest a wire cheese cutter (ouch) — forget leaing against them while you enjoy the view; the boxy patio chairs have a back-to-seat angle that guarantees discomfort. But these can be simply rectified.

    James says:

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