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casa azúcar: a coastal retreat by studio saxe among costa rica's tropical landscape

Jul 03, 2023Jul 03, 2023

In the heart of Nosara, Costa Rica, Studio Saxe creates this Casa Azúcar as a secluded oasis hidden amongst overgrown, tropical nature. With the dwelling located in close proximity to the beach and neighboring houses, the architects focused on respecting the existing trees and a seasonal creek, which served as a diverse wildlife corridor. The goal was to frame all views toward the creek and the abundant wildlife, while crafting a house that felt like a contemporary garden pavilion.

images © Andres Garcia Lachner | @garcialachner

To prioritize the seasonal creek and wildlife, the architects at Studio Saxe chose to first cross the creek and site its Casa Azúcar on the opposite side, distancing the dwelling from the road. This approach allows the occupants to be greeted by the scenic creek view upon entering the dwelling. The bedrooms on the ground floor provide direct access to the gardens, while those on the second floor offer breathtaking views of the mid-canopy of the trees and the wildlife that thrives in that part of the forest. The strategic placement of planter boxes and vegetation creates a sense of privacy, allowing residents to enjoy the best of both worlds: proximity to amenities and solitude in the forest.

Saxe Interiors collaborated closely with the architecture department to create a cohesive design that seamlessly connected the interior and exterior spaces. By ensuring a flow of materials from one area to another, they achieved a light, airy, and modern tropical ambiance. Local craftsmen played a crucial role in the creation of the loose furniture, infusing the interiors with authenticity and a sense of local responsibility. The choice of colors, textures, and materials reflects the client's desire for a clean beach-like feel, resulting in a modern interior design that remains rooted in the past.

Saxe Landscape worked in tandem with the architecture and interior design teams to deeply understand the site, existing trees, topography, and water movements. By gaining this comprehensive understanding, they successfully integrated the entire project into the ecological environment. Creative approaches were employed to engage with the natural world, such as introducing colorful plants and fragrances to attract birds and butterflies, enriching the experience of the inhabitants. A small inside garden at the entrance of the house adds a touch of color that harmonizes beautifully with the light materials, while planter boxes in the second-floor rooms provide both privacy and framed views.

From the very beginning, Casa Azúcar embraced bioclimatic passive design principles. Thoughtfully positioned parasols create a pleasant shade, blocking the sun during peak hours. Planter boxes and vegetation cool natural wind flows and provide shelter when needed. Water is captured and recycled for irrigation and other purposes, demonstrating a commitment to resource conservation. The project harmoniously combines ancient and local techniques with innovative technology to achieve a sustainable design that honors the past while looking toward the future.

To seamlessly integrate the house into its natural surroundings, a steel structure was prefabricated off-site and then carefully erected on-site. Bleached teak was chosen for ceilings and floors, evoking a sense of warmth and elegance. Large aluminum window systems were installed to maximize flexibility and connection with the outdoors. The kitchen, bathroom furniture, built-ins, and most of the furniture were skillfully crafted by local providers, resulting in a fusion of contemporary building materials with local craftsmanship, adding a touch of authenticity to the interior spaces.

Costa Rica Studio Saxe dwelling Andres Garcia Lachner @garcialachner architects