Costa Rica-based architectural firm Studio Saxe has just completed work on a beautiful, light-filled athletic center for a hotel located in the coastal town of Nosara. However, unlike most gymnasium designs, which are known more for functionality than aesthetic, this low-impact gym was carefully crafted to mimic a “small village amongst the trees” so that visitors would feel connected to the trees and wildlife that surround the site during their workout.

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large building on stilts with extended rooftop

Located on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, the Gilded Iguana hotel is known for its stunning beachfront location, and it offers a unique blend of wellness programs and active adventures. Specifically, the off-the-beaten-path hotel caters to flocks of amateur and professional surfers that come from around the world to enjoy the region’s beaches. The hotel reached out to local firm Studio Saxe to build an athletic center that offers guests a wider variety of activity options in addition to surfing.

Related: Minimalist hotel gym made out of locally sourced stone features one of the largest glass panels in the world

glass building surrounded by greenery

bridge that connects two buildings

The athletic center is comprised of multiple cubed volumes with a lightweight steel frame, all connected via interior and exterior walkways. Using this system enabled the architects to slightly elevate the structures off the landscape. Within the framework, massive floor-to-ceiling glass panels were strategic in connecting the building to the ample vegetation that surrounds the center.

large interior room with all glass walls and blue floors

large countertop with various sinks

Each rooftop juts out significantly from the core of the building to shade the interior spaces from Costa Rica’s intense sunlight and accompanying heat. The overhangs were also built with rainwater collection systems that reroute rainwater to be used for the building’s mechanical systems and landscaping irrigation.

outside space surrounding large buildng

evening shot of exterior walkway connecting buildings

The resulting low-impact design allows visitors to feel a strong connection to nature, even while partaking in the various activities held inside. Guests to the hotel can enjoy taking a yoga, Jiu Jitsu or meditation class or rent surfboards and bikes onsite to make the most of the breathtaking coastal landscape.

+ Studio Saxe

Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe