While sustainability is a key objective of the two-story Terrace House, the architects also strived to make the home as comfortable and beautiful as possible. The 300-square-meter building’s remote location on Puntarenas necessitated the design of semi-prefabricated steel members lightweight enough to be brought on-site and preassembled with local construction methods. The use of lightweight materials and careful placement of the house against the back of a steep hill helped minimize site disturbance.
To minimize dependence on air conditioning despite the region’s hot and humid climate, the architects created computer models to analyze local wind patterns and the solar trajectory. That data informed an airy and open house layout that uses passive solar design and cross ventilation to stay naturally cool. Photovoltaic panels power the home’s electricity needs, while solar thermal technology heats the water. All appliances and fixtures in the house were chosen for their energy efficient features. Rainwater is collected from all roof structures and reused throughout the home.
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The most open areas of the home are placed closest to the ocean and jungle views, while the bedrooms and bathrooms are tucked to the rear. “The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels, but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape,” write the architects. “In these interstitial terrace spaces, which are never truly inside or out, architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.” Most of the construction materials were locally and ethically sourced, such as the certified Melina wood, and assembled by local workers.
+ Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture
Images via Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture, by Andres Garcia Lachner