The property is located on the slopes of the mountains that bound the south west side of the city of San Jose, Costa Rica.
The challenge of the project was to reuse the majority of the structure of two existing buildings that was never completed and had stood vacant for ten years. As the concrete work was in good condition, the architects decided to reuse as much of the existing as possible. The aim however was to completely transform the building and create a home that integrated with the site and to take advantage of the beautiful views of the city, forest and mountains.
The approach was to connect the two existing volumes with a transparent glass circulation space which contains the staircase to the lower level. All living spaces are placed on the upper entry level, and the 3 bedrooms are on the more private lower level.
Cut into the hill, an entrance courtyard is created that provides a place of shelter during the windy months of January and February. Off this courtyard are the entrances to the main house as well as to the adjacent studio. The studio is covered in a green roof that maintains a stable indoor temperature and also creates a usable roof space.
The living level has 3 large sliding red framed doors that can be opened up to allow for a sense of connection to the environment and also to facilitate cross ventilation. As the property is located at 4500 feet above sea level, even though at a tropical latitude, the altitude keeps temperatures mild year round. This means that the home needs no heating or cooling most of the year. On the rear chilly nights in December, a fireplace provides warmth.
A sustainable home with low energy usage and minimal environmental impact was a key goal.