No Footprint House

Costa Rica

10
10 Love 1,124 Visits Published

Lead architect: Oliver Schütte


Design team: José Pablo González, Mauricio Rodríguez, Misael Rodríguez, Ronald Carvajal Soto


Typology research: Marije van Lidth de Jeude


MEP engineering: Consost S.A. / Pablo Mora


Structural design: Ingeniería Cañas S.A. / Rafael Cañas


Construction: SLO Studiolocal / Hernán Mora


Photography: Fernando Alda


Documentary: Manduca Audiovisual / Soren Pessoa, Valeria Romero


Marketing: Luuc van Wezel


Location: Ojochal, Province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica 


The No Footprint House (NFH) is located in Ojochal, a small village at the edge of the vast tropical rain forests along the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Placed in a humid tropical climate, the building design responds to its surrounding habitat by passive climate control through natural ventilation and solar shading. The NFH is organized around a central service core, which includes all machinery, intelligence, closets, bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry area. The compression of utilities in one compact unit enables an open floor plan all around the core. Moreover, it contributes to the efficiency of the building in terms of assembly and maintenance. Additional furniture pieces are “plugged” into the double-layered envelope, which is created by the vertical structural columns and the inclined outer façades. The inclination decreases direct impact of sunlight and precipitation, which protects the elevated floorplan from overheating and splashing water. Façade panels can be opened or closed individually in order to regulate views and exposure, augment or reduce air flows, create privacy and security. The operable panels convert interior into exterior spaces and play with the indoor-outdoor dynamic of tropical architecture.


The house in Ojochal has been developed as a prototype for serial production, which is based on a larger toolbox of residential typologies. It was prefabricated in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and transported to the target location on one single truck. The process of making and inhabiting the prototype creates valuable experience to optimize the series, which will be available as of 2020. In its initial phase, the NFH comes in three different sizes that can be auto-configured with regards to structure, material finishes and the desired level of services: from “tiny” (36m2) to mid-size (81m2) and family home (108m2). Those typologies respond to the local market requirements, providing “attainable” (affordable and sustainable) homes for individuals as well as small and big families. Each building is configured from a catalogue of prefabricated components, the first of its kind in Central America. The selection of all elements and materials is based on a thorough investigation regarding origin, processing, and environmental performance. Material options that form part of the NFH catalogue include structural wood and steel, different types of louvres and perforated panels for the facades, bamboo and wood ceilings, as well as mineral and synthetic finishes for walls and floors. They can be adjusted according to the specific needs of each client. 


In Ojochal, the NFH-108 was built as a floating steel structure with wooden finishes. It is based on a structural grid size of 12 x 9 meters, which contains a combined living and dining area, two bathrooms, as well as a multifunctional “buffer” in-between the two bedrooms. Private rooms can be closed off through different layers of glass sliders and “curtain walls” in order to allow for changing degrees of spatial separation or social integration. The upper section of the building remains permanently open in order to assure unobstructed air flows and cross-ventilation. Panels of mosquito netting prevent insects from entering. The house is connected to the public water and energy grid, which is powered almost entirely by renewable resources in Costa Rica. Only water is heated locally through solar energy, which is harvested on top of the roof. Auto-sufficient configurations are available for off-grid locations, as well as a completely de- and remountable kit of parts. The NFH is designed to blend with its natural surroundings and to minimize the impact of construction on the environment. The project seeks for integral sustainability in terms of its environmental, economic, social and spatial performance.

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    Lead architect: Oliver Schütte Design team: José Pablo González, Mauricio Rodríguez, Misael Rodríguez, Ronald Carvajal Soto Typology research: Marije van Lidth de Jeude MEP engineering: Consost S.A. / Pablo Mora Structural design: Ingeniería Cañas S.A. / Rafael Cañas Construction: SLO Studiolocal / Hernán Mora Photography: Fernando Alda Documentary: Manduca Audiovisual / Soren Pessoa, Valeria Romero Marketing: Luuc van...

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