Retreat in Costa Rica
Architect: Iván Delgado
Location: CR-La Vega
In a small town in northern Costa Rica, a novelty stands among the stables, traditional houses and tents: the area’s first house planned by an architect. However, it makes no attempt to pander to its neighbours by imitating traditional styles. Nor has a glass palace been plunked down among the palm trees.
A dusty, palm-lined path leads to Casa V. When the owners are at home, visitors have the impression of standing opposite a market stand. On all sides, corrugated metal sheeting juts over the main volume of the house. On the south side, this creates a roofed-in area for the car. On the west side, the roof and sunshades overlap. The wall can be opened completely. In fact, the appearance of the house depends entirely on the needs of the occupants. The sunshades, which work with the roof to cut back the light, are in blue and red, colours carried through to the light underside of the roof, thus immersing the area below in warm or cool light. This is meant to enhance the mood of the light at both morning and evening. According to Delgado, this effect facilitates both getting up and going to bed, for it connects these activities with the rhythms of nature.
On all sides, the roof rests on an annular glass base. Thanks to the canopy, no direct sunlight can penetrate, but this special feature makes it possible to lie in bed and observe the moon when it is low enough in the sky.
The bedroom leads directly to the bathroom, which is located at the rear of the house. At the front, all the rooms are connected via the verandah. The dining room and kitchen are found alongside the bedroom. Although space is limited in Casa V, there is nonetheless enough room for two more guest rooms and a second bathroom.
The perforated wood elements for the folding walls are a good choice for the Costa Rican climate. The architect designed them after being inspired by the fall of light through the cracks in old planks. When closed, they offer a high degree of security. The twilight in these rooms is strikingly different from the way it looks in the light-flooded structures being erected at the same time.
Casa V makes no secret of reflecting the needs of its occupants without placing a higher priority on fulfilling a particular architectural vision.