Perched on the edge of the Costa Rican rainforest, the No Footprint House (NFH) responds to its surrounding tropical rain forest environment using passive climate control via natural ventilation and solar shading. Modular and prefabricated off-site, it is a prototype slated for serial production in Central America, a first of its kind.
Based on a structural grid size of 12 x 9 meters and using a steel frame structure, this prefabricated concept that can be dropped off on site by truck comes in three different sizes that can be configured as desired. Sizes range from small space (36 m2) to mid-size (81 m2) to a family home (108 m2). The selection of all elements and materials is based on a thorough investigation of original, process and environmental footprint. The components that form part of the NFH catalogue include structural wood and steel, different types of louvres, perforate panels for the façade, bamboo and wood ceilings as well as mineral and synthetic finishes for walls and floor – all for custom selection by the client.
The layout of NFH is organized around a central service core, which includes all machinery, intelligence, closets, bathrooms, kitchen and laundry. This enables an open floor plan all around. Façade panels can be opened or closed accordingly in order to regulate views, airflow, privacy and security. In effect, indoor spaces become outdoor spaces, an interplay that is a feature of tropical architecture more broadly.
Adjustable, affordable and replicable, the aim of the project is to find sustainable performance in terms of environmental, economic, social and spatial performance.
More from the Architects:
The No Footprint House (NFH) is located along the Southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, on the edge of its iconic Whale Bay and the vast tropical rain forests of the region. Placed in a humid tropical climate, the building design responds to its surrounding habitat by passive climate control through natural ventilation and solar shading. It is built around a central service core, which includes all machinery and service lines of the house, as well as bathrooms, closets, kitchen, and laundry area. The compression of utilities in one compact unit enables an open floor plan around it. Moreover, it contributes to the economy of the house in terms of assembly and maintenance. Additional furniture pieces are positioned in the double-layered envelope of the building, which is created by the vertical structural columns and the inclined outer façades. The inclination responds to the incoming sunlight in the hottest hours of the day. The façade panels can be opened or closed individually to regulate views and exposure, augment or reduce air flows, create privacy and security. They convert interior to exterior spaces and play with the indoor-outdoor dynamic of tropical architecture.
The Ojochal house contains two bedrooms, a combined living and dining area, as well as a series of multifunctional areas in between the fully enclosable private spaces. According to the choice of the client, it is built with a floating steel structure and wooden finishes. It is plugged into the public service grid, which is powered by renewable energies. Only water is heated locally through solar power that is harvested on top of the building. The house was prefabricated in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and shipped to the target site overnight on one single truck. It has been developed as a prototype for serial production, which is based on a larger toolbox of residential typologies. Each typology is configured from a catalogue of prefabricated components, the first of its kind in Central America.
In its initial phase, the NFH will come in three different sizes that can be auto-configured with regards to material finishes and the desired level of services: from tiny (36m2) to mid-size (81m2) and family home (108m2). A fully auto-sufficient configuration is possible for off-grid locations. The offer responds to the local market requirements, providing “attainable” (affordable and sustainable) homes for individuals as well as small and big families. The different building typologies can be assembled, disassembled and reassembled anywhere, depending on the specific needs of user and target site. The project responds to the concept of nomadic and adaptable lifestyle, which is enabled by a maximum amount of flexibility through design. The selection of all building components and materials are based on a thorough investigation regarding their origin, processing, and environmental performance. It is designed to blend with its natural surroundings and to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. The process of developing and inhabiting the prototype creates valuable experience to optimize the series, which will be available as of next year.
Material Used :
1. Concrete: Holcim Costa Rica
2. Structural steel: ElLagar
3. Cross linked polyethylene tubing (PEX): Concrelite
4. Toilets and sinks: Deca
5. Faucets: Franz Viegener
6. Kitchen appliances: Barazza
7. Electric system (overall): Ditesa
8. Electric system for operable façade panels: Grupo Elefante
9. Window system: Extralum
10. FSC-certified wood (floors and louvres): Buen Precio
11. Plaster and micro-cement: Francolor Decsa
12. Paints and sealants: Grupo Sur
13. Lighting: High Lights
14. Curtains and rails: IKEA
15. Ceiling panels: Tecni-Gypsum
16. Roof panels: Grupo Ferromax
17. Skylights: Sola Tube
18. Solar water heating system: Green Panel Costa Rica