Dynamic retirement home in Costa Rican mountains incorporates sustainability
Areopagus is a building harmoniously integrated into the landscape of the Costa Rican mountains. The project was planned as a retirement residence for a client from Hollywood, California by Paravant Architects and Planners. The building has two very different façades. The street-facing facade is a massive concrete wall providing privacy for the owners. Openings in the solid wall-plane, frame controlled views of the surrounding mountains. These and other strategically placed openings provide for natural cooling and cross ventilation.
The private south facing elevation, with large transparent glazing and deep roof overhangs completely opens up this side of the house to stunning views across the valley towards San Jose. The living room has a 16m-long fully retractable corner glass-sliding wall allowing for true indoor-outdoor living. The adjacent pool with its vanishing edge enhances the already dramatic experience of this space. Additionally, the pool acts as a cooling pond reducing air temperature in the house.
Through thoughtful design, sensitive consideration of the orientation of walls and openings, an awareness of existing site conditions and the use of passive strategies the building does not require a mechanical air conditioning system, drastically reducing the energy needed to maintain a comfortable living environment compared to buildings of a similar size and setting.
The project was designed and managed by German architects in collaboration with architects and engineers from Costa Rica and the United States. In considering issues of sustainability it was important for the architects to exhaust all passive measures before implementing strategically technical active systems.
The active elements used in this house were roof installed solar and photovoltaic systems providing hot water and electricity. Additionally, an onsite micro waste-water-treatment plant was provided, as well as rain water collection for yard irrigation. German Technology and related engineering has a high level of appreciation in Costa Rica.