Location: Playa Hermosa, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
Material: Concrete, Steel & Wood
Completion date: 2023
Principal Architect: Mauricio Quirós Pacheco
Assistants: Niloufar Jalal-Zadeh, Anton Skorishchenko, Angela Cho, Anne Cottrell
Models: Niloufar Jalal-Zadeh, Anton Skorishchenko Engineering Luis Alberto Quirós Luque, QUIRPA SA
Photographer : Fernando Alda
Text provided by the architect:
Most of the land in Malpaís, Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa - three successive coastal towns known globally as prime ecological, tourism and wellness havens – has direct access to some of the most exceptional beach and mountain landscapes in Costa Rica, if not the world. The site for Casa Jícaro, located in the heart of the latter, had direct access to none.
The house draws upon an off-center patio scheme to overcome this disadvantage. Access to natural water and ground is delivered within the patio; half of it is a swimming pool and the other a garden. The residential program, social and living space for a family of four, is arranged in an “L” shape volume surrounding two sides of the patio. The other two edges are flanked by a floating wood platform with a set of folding doors.
The plan of the house is a 12x12m square traversed by an oblique angle corresponding to a setback requirement. The volume of the patio is subtracted to the volume of the pyramid hip roof, resulting in a rooftop that contrasts the stability of the plan and floats above the space by resting on a ribbon of clerestory windows. Similarly, the simple geometry and precise dimensioning of the structural elements allowed for an inexpensive steel construction that sits on a concrete base. Rather than connecting vertically, the two materials connect laterally, where no steel member touches the natural ground, and the highly saline rainwater and humidity drains directly to the soil.
The collapsible façade questions the nature of domesticity by allowing Casa Jícaro to be equally introvert and extrovert. When closed, the garden and pool are private and extend the social spaces of the house outdoors, and the wood platforms become an outdoor veranda and shading devices. When open, the patio becomes public, the platforms become the sundecks for the pool, and the open structures frames the views to the neighbors and the surrounding vegetation. Anyone can look in as much as out.