Known for its hot and humid summers, the Costa Rican town of Naranjo de Alajuela can be a tricky place to build a cool and comfortable home with a small energy footprint. Yet San Rafael de Escazú-based design studio 10˚84˚ Arquitectura shows that crafting a naturally cool home can be a breeze if you employ the right passive design strategies. One such example can be seen in the VV Residence, a 2,023-square-foot abode that features a well-ventilated environment as well as a strong connection to nature, including spectacular northern vistas of three volcanoes and the Central Valley.
The key to the design of VV Residence was 10˚84˚ Arquitectura’s approach to the home’s hygrothermal properties, an assessment that led to careful management of the building’s heat and moisture so as to prevent early degradation and homeowner discomfort. To that end, the one-bedroom home was strategically oriented to minimize excessive thermal load, and openings were maximized to capitalize on the existing views of nature and promote natural ventilation. A solar study informed the placement of sun overhangs and blinds; the north and south-facing facades, for instance, were constructed with vertical and horizontal solar shades to protect the interior from direct solar radiation.
To promote natural ventilation and passive cooling, the architects designed double-height spaces and installed glass louver windows. Ample glazing also lets in plenty of natural light to help reduce energy demands. Moreover, VV Residence is equipped with a rainwater harvesting system that supplies water for home sanitation and irrigation as well as solar hot water heaters. To reduce landscape impact, the building’s steel structure was pre-cut offsite, and the surrounding landscape design incorporated existing native species.
“Through the incorporation of various passive design strategies, the VV Residence reaches a high performance level in reducing its environmental impact and energy use during its life cycle,” the architects explained. “The project achieves a high hygrothermal comfort rating while taking full advantage of its surrounding environment to create optimal living spaces without sacrificing connections with nature and the surrounding landscape.”
Images by Adrián Aguilar González